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Moldovan insurer files for license withdrawal after executives arrested

, one of Moldova's largest insurance companies and a marketleader in the nonlife business, has filed an application for its license to bewithdrawn, the local regulator said July 5.

TheNational Commission for Financial Markets said it received a request July 1 towithdraw Asito's operating license signed by the company's director general,Andrii Lupyr. The regulator said it is examining the application but cautioned thatit would be "absolutely premature" to assume that the company isgoing out of business immediately after the request.

"Theentity must honor its obligations towards each of its customers," thecommission added.

Thenews follows the June 30 arrest of the company's financial director and anin-house lawyer on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. Three other Asitoexecutives, two from the legal department as well as the chief accountant, werealso detained in the same investigation, but are cooperating with authorities,Moldovan anti-corruption prosecutors said July 1.

"Theyhave admitted that they acted upon instruction from their superiors,"authorities said of the latter three.

Prosecutorssaid the evidence gathered indicates that the five were involved in atransaction designed to misappropriate company resources. Using a falsecontract that said Asito was the guarantor of the debts of a third-party firm,the five transferred the "particularly large" sum of 3.3 millionMoldovan lei into the accounts of the aforementioned firm.

Theythen created a second bogus contract between that company and a holding inRussia, which invoiced $564,340 for an unspecified piece of equipment. The fiveconverted the money to dollars and sent it to Russia and were looking to do thesame with a total of 9.5 million lei, prosecutors allege.

Accordingto information posted on its website, Asito is majority-owned by Windon &Flanders Ltd., which it says is based in London but which a filing from theU.K.'s Companies House shows is registered in South Shields in northeastEngland. Windon & Flanders' sole director is listed as AlexanderStarovoytov, who was appointed a director in 2012. He also owns all 1,000 ofthe class B ordinary shares in issue by the company, which was incorporated inDecember 2010.

Furtherfilings on the Companies House site indicate that the Registrar of Companiesgave notice June 2, 2015, that the company would be struck off the register andthe company dissolved unless cause were given otherwise within three months. AJuly 28, 2015, follow-up filing indicates that cause was shown and thedissolution canceled.

Thefirm has filed accounts under rules applying to dormant companies in respect ofeach of the past five years.

Othershareholders in Asito, according to its website, are Cyprus-based firms DormanManagement Ltd., which owns a 17% stake, and Ourimon Venture Ltd., which has a16% holding.

TheMoldovan bankingsector has been at the center of far larger corruption allegations,with three lenders shuttered after the disappearance of roughly $1 billion, oran eighth of Moldovan GDP.

Thecase continues.

As of July 7, US$1 wasequivalent to 19.75 Moldovan lei.