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Over 20 million US dollars from Moldova’s electricity bills ended up in offshore firms’ accounts// RISE

Over 20 million dollars from electricity invoices paid by Moldovan consumers have reached the accounts of offshore companies. The money was removed from the Victoriabank accounts of a company in Tiraspol that has been interfering with the supply of energy for several years in Moldova.

RISE outlined the scheme by which the buffer company in the separatist region became the main electricity supplier overnight, earned millions of profits and hid them in tax havens.

Only around 20% of the country’s total electricity demand is produced on the territory of the Republic of Moldova on the right bank of the River Nistru. In recent years, the battle for Moldova’s electricity supply contract has usually been made between two regional players: a representative of the Ukrainian group DTEK, which is part of the business empire of Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, and the Cuciurgan plant, which is owned by the giant Inter RAO UES, controlled by the Russian state.

Source: MediaCenter (The Cuciurgan plant)

How EnergoKapital appeared in the scheme:

After the spring of 2014, when the Ministry of Economy announced that between April 1, 2014, and April 1, 2015, the Republic of Moldova bought electricity from DTEK Vostokenergo and from the Cuciurgan plant, due to the crisis in the Eastern Ukraine that degraded into an armed conflict, in autumn of 2014, DTEK has completely ceased delivery of energy to the Republic of Moldova. Consequently, DTEK’s contractual obligations were taken over by the Cuciurgan Power Plant.

At this point in the scheme, an intermediary appeared – the company EnergoKapital in Tiraspol, which was founded in October 2014, a few weeks before the DTEK ceased its deliveries. Founders of the company that emerged overnight were Bas-Market SA in Tiraspol, with offshore shareholders, and Ornamental Art Limited in Hong Kong.

In the following years, the EnergoKapital’s license was prolonged four times, with the left bank becoming the main electricity supplier in the Republic of Moldova. Thus, from the end of 2014 until the end of March 2017, EnergoKapital delivered energy worth about 400 million dollars to the consumers on the right bank of Nistru.

The offshore compromise

Victor Parlicov, the former director of the National Energy Reglementation Agency, claims that such schemes have happened in the past, but the emergence of EnergoKapital as an intermediary is also due to some misunderstandings between business partners in Chisinau, Tiraspol, and Moscow.

Former director of EnergoKapital in 2014-2016, Mihail Dobrov, now head of Dnestrenergo, an enterprise that manages Transnistrian energy transport networks, refused to speak on this subject.

Criminal law in Chișinău

The criminal scheme by which Moldova was supplied with electricity also came into view of the law enforcement bodies, the General Prosecutor’s Office, stating beforehand that the EnergoKapital intermediary figured in a criminal case. Vladimir Mosneaga, prosecutor at the Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Causes, refused to rule on the file, suggesting that RISE should wait for the official response.

Currently studying Interactive/Media/Design at the Royal Academy of Art. Based in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Economy

For the first time, Moldovan apples will be exported to India

Apples from the Republic of Moldova will be exported to one of the largest markets in the world – India. Moreover, Moldovan apples will soon be exported to Israel. The first batch – a sample of 100 kg will be delivered for the necessary checks. At the same time, from October 1st, prosperous plums from the Republic of Moldova will be exported to Canada, a Government press release announced.

Fresh vegetables and vegetables from the Republic of Moldova are delivered annually in about 80 countries – for example, Moldovan grapes are exported to 20 states of the world, and plums – in 16 states.

Most Moldovan products are currently on the European Union market, with large increases in the markets in Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Romania.

Thus, it is being examined whether there could be a possibility of exporting indigenous products to Vietnam, Egypt, Qatar, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.

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Economy

Getting citizenship for investments: is it good or bad?

Granting citizenship to the people having invested into the Moldovan economy is a form of passively capitalizing on Moldova’s status as an internationally recognized country. At the same time, luring investors through international forums and exhibitions, what does have a right to exist, has turned up being not so efficient and may not be viewed as an exclusive tool to interact with and attract foreign investments.

The Moldovan economy goes on feeding on remittances, as the exports – although up 38% (in January-February 2018) – are not capable though to unleash the overgrowth badly needed for the essential improvement of the living standard. Under these circumstances is or is not the program of granting citizenship for investments the panacea, the element able to miraculously boost the economic growth? Certainly, the answer is ‘no.’ The program can yield contingent effects, as raising the amount of direct foreign investment, as a substantial increase of the financial flows to Moldova and implicitly shaping the investment climate so much talked about for so long.

The Economy Ministry assesses an investment flow of about 1.3 bn euros, a difficult thing to assess as the program is launched for the first time and there is no any market response as to the Moldovan passport yet. Still there is a steady demand for such services on the international market: businesspeople having to migrate because of various reasons ask for a second citizenship. For example, according to a study carried out by CS Global Partners in the UK in 2017, about 89% of the British would like having a second citizenship, and about 34% made the effort to find out how such a one may be acquired.

Most countries do have programs of gaining investor visas or citizenship, what’s more these people are sought for in a tough luring competition. If suich countries as the USA, the UK or Switzerland but display the eligibility conditions, in Moldova’s case, this strategy won’t work because of competitive attractiveness of the Moldovan passport compared to the British or American ones, for instance. Hiring a company specialized in providing such services as Henley&Partners is highly increases the chances of attaining the program goals, given Henley&Partners’ experience in providing a wide range of services for potential applicants, but also its massive database of clients and potential applicants.

The risks implied and the critique targeting such programs of gaining citizenship through investments – hinting it’s an illegal scheme of money laundering – are detached from the real context such programs unfold in. First, these services are provided by companies often related to renowned consulting firms, which would incur reputational risks and would be liable to criminal investigation in many countries. Second, gaining one’s citizenship is a public act, your name becomes public what is not proper for “the strategies” used to launder money, which need interposed persons, shell companies and fake identities for short times. Third, as the campaign is going on at the national scale, were it a money laundering scheme, it would have immediately draw the attention of Moldova’s development partners: the USA, the EU, the IMF and other international financial entities.

And last but not least, all the applicants will be checked up by law-enforcing bodies and the Interpol, as the law provides for.

Roman Chircă, director of Market Economy Institute

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Economy

“State secret”: Finance Ministry refuses to publish EU letter “appreciating Moldova’s progress” on €100 mln. pact

22 May 2018- Newsmaker.md was refused by the Finance Ministry to obtain a copy of the letter of the European Commission on the fulfillment of the first 10 priority actions, necessary for disbursement of the €100 million fund.

Signed by Finance Minister Octavian Armașu, the refusal letter explains to Newsmaker that the letter contains information that is subject to the “state secret” protection due to the national security risks of publishing it.

In March 2018, Armașu declared that the letter from the DG ECFIN (European Commission) appreciated the efforts of the Moldovan authorities on the fulfillment of the first 10 (28, in total) conditions from the agreement on the 100 million euros macro-financial assistance.

This “appreciating” letter was then requested by the Chișinău-based Center for Policy and Reforms (CPR Moldova), but the request was refused on the claim that NGOs cannot request information from the state institutions. Now, CPR Moldova is suing the Finance Ministry for violating the access to information laws, suggesting that an NGO is nothing but an association of individuals, which should freely access information of public interest. Moreover, CPR is asking the Ministry to present a copy of the report on the implementation of the first 10 conditions for the disbursement of the first tranche of those 100 million euros.


On 23 November 2017, the Republic of Moldova signed the agreement with the European Union regarding the macro-financial assistance of 100 million euros: 40 million of grants and 60 million as a loan. The so-called MFA was requested in August 2015 and in March 2016 by the Moldovan authorities. After long debates on the conditionality, the European Parliament, and the EU Council came to an agreement to offer Moldova the macro-financial assistance for 2 years and a half in three tranches, whose disbursement is conditioned by a certain list of criteria. According to the agreement, the European Commission will monitor the progress on key reforms together with the International Monetary Fund.

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