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May 20, 2015 11:08 am

$1 Billion Scandal Involving Jewish Businessman Raises Fear of Antisemitism in Moldova

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avatar by David Daoud

The beginning of Ilan Shor's trial at the court in Chisinau is expected to inspire antisemitsim in the Eastern European country. PHOTO: Wikipedia.

The Jewish community in Moldova has expressed heightened fear of resurgent antisemitism over the suspected involvement of Moldovan Jewish businessman Ilan Shor in a scheme that cost three of the Eastern European nation’s banks $1 billion.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, Marina Lecarteva, a leader of Moldova’s organized Jewish community, expressed her concern over the potential for an antisemitic backlash.

“There is a lot of antisemitism here, especially on the Internet,” she said.

According to Lecarteva, suspicion surrounding Shor – who has been under house arrest since May 6 –  is likely to exacerbate local animosity towards the country’s Jewish community.

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She said that because Shor is Jewish, “the community is concerned. The masses have identified him as a Jew, and people here are outraged over the fraud, connecting him to the community.”

“We remember our history and the Kishinev pogrom,” she said, referring to the massacre of dozens of Jews and widespread damage to Jewish property that happened in Moldova about a century ago.

She said that the community — estimates put it somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 people — “has not yet seen any violence, with an emphasis on ‘yet,'” according to Channel 2.

Shor, a 28-year old Moldovan businessman and millionaire, was born in Tel Aviv. He apparently made his fortune selling duty-free goods at Chisinau International Airport and is now the main suspect in the disappearance of about $1 billion from three Moldovan banks late last year. The missing funds amount to about one-eighth of the poor Eastern European country’s gross domestic product.

Suspicion regarding Shor’s involvement in the matter arose as a result of a confidential report issued by the U.S. investigative consultancy Kroll, which claims that companies tied to Shor gradually took control of the banks and allegedly issued large loans to Shor-connected companies.

It is not clear from the report, which itself has no formal legal standing, whether Shor bears personal responsibility for the missing money, but local Moldovans are furious over the scandal.

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