Ex-U.S. Ambassador Asif Chaudry, wearing a gold tie, greets oligarch and fugitive Vladimir Plahotniuc in 2018.
Former U.S. Ambassador Asif Chaudhry, right, greets fugitive tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc at an event organized by the Atlantic Council in 2018. Photo: Vladimir Plahotniuc/Twitter.

By Jack Davies, Mongabay

  • A former U.S. ambassador to Moldova who is employed by the country’s top commodities baron, Vaja Jhashi, has come under scrutiny for the firm’s links to a sanctioned oligarch.
  • Last month, a Mongabay investigation revealed Jhashi’s firm, Trans-Oil, is allegedly over-exploiting its virtual monopoly on grain exports from the country and using offshore companies to transfer its profits overseas and avoid paying tax.
  • The fugitive tycoon in question, Vladimir Plahotniuc, has reportedly been living in Miami, despite the sanctions, at a property linked to Jhashi.
  • A senior Trump administration official, acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell, has also come under fire for working for the oligarch, raising fears he was vulnerable to blackmail.

  • A Mongabay investigation has traced the rise and fall of a billion-dollar commodities cartel in Eastern Europe, finding it relied on money laundering, tax avoidance and state capture.
  • Over more than six months reporters reviewed hundreds of court filings, corporate and property records, and carried out interviews with those involved to reveal how the deals were done and where the money went.
  • Despite mounting evidence of impropriety by the group, major development banks continued to fund its projects, lending legitimacy to its operations.


Illustrations by Yana Adamovic

CHISINAU, Moldova — Many men have regretted their friendship with Yuri Drukker.