May 16, 2023
Buna Ziua! I am pleased to join you today as we come together to discuss ways to mitigate and prevent risks to national security posed by corruption and illicit finance. This is a core element of our common efforts to defend our democracies, our prosperity, and our security. As President Biden has said, in addition to robbing state budgets and short-circuiting the normal function of state and economic institutions, corruption also serves to undermine democracies worldwide.
That is why accountability is so important for the outrageous corruption schemes that have plagued Moldova, including the billion-dollar theft and Russian Laundromat. Moldova has made impressive progress in recent years in the fight against corruption. We applaud the government for taking needed steps to restructure the anticorruption agencies and strengthen the judicial sector through vetting of judges and prosecutors which will start later this year. Holding corrupt actors accountable is another essential component in the effort, both to restore faith in government institutions and to prevent future such acts. Asset recovery sends a clear message that corrupt officials will not be able to enjoy the fruits of their crimes, as well as providing a much-needed boost to the economy.
I want to commend the Moldovan government for its successes in recovering millions of dollars in assets, including properties, cars, and bank accounts. However, we know that much more has been stolen and the work continues to increase the amount of assets recovered. This requires strong institutions and close cooperation between stakeholders in Moldova and in jurisdictions that hold these assets.
From our side, the United States has promoted accountability by taking direct action to sanction oligarchs and operatives who have engaged in corruption and have exerted Russia’s malign influence here, including through interference in Moldova’s democratic elections. We will continue to use all the tools we have available to expose and hold these bad actors accountable.
The United States and our partners are also providing technical assistance and training to Moldova’s anticorruption agencies to help give them all the resources they need to counter corruption.
Moldova, sadly, was known for many years for the large-scale corruption schemes that happened here. Now, it is an EU candidate country and a leader on global efforts to combat corruption, including through the Summit for Democracy. To keep up this momentum, a strong understanding of the threat from illicit finance is vital, and the United States is proud to sponsor this event.