Moldova police have recently arrested officials who allegedly accepted bribes in an international conspiracy to allow criminals to bypass INTERPOL Red Notices. 

The officials are believed to have accepted bribes totaling several million U.S. dollars in exchange for offering criminals safe harbor in Moldova from Red Notices issued in their names, or for deleting the arrest warrants altogether.

Moldovan, French, and U.S. officials cooperated to organize the raids of dozens of locations to seek out and detain suspects. Reportedly,  evidence from the investigation showed that criminal groups with links in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries allegedly bribed individuals in exchange for help in removing Red Notices from INTERPOL’s database. In addition to arresting four officials tied to the bribery conspiracy, Moldovan police seized terabytes of data from laptops and mobile devices as part of the raids. Investigators believe that officials were paid millions of dollars in total to prevent notices from being issued regarding individuals taking refuge in Moldova or elsewhere. 

What this means for Red Notice subjects

Our clients have conveyed numerous experiences with law enforcement officials in corrupt INTERPOL member countries soliciting bribes to remove Red Notices; we know that this happens often. We also know that National Central Bureau (NCB) officials often falsely represent that Red Notices exist, and offer to remove those notices for a fee after showing “subjects” a copy of a fake Red Notice. The Moldova investigation results are unsurprising in this respect. However, the fact that an investigation took place and that it was executed by French officials at the request of INTERPOL is encouraging.

INTERPOL’s initiation of this type of investigation indicates that the organization is taking appropriate steps to address corrupt actions in its member countries. If corrupt actors are replaced with law enforcement officials who observe the rule of law, individuals dealing with INTERPOL are more likely to be afforded due process of law and fair treatment.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.