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Mold-Street: Company controlling Chișinău Airport transferred millions of lei to a firm of the Russian Presidential administration

In a recent investigation, the Moldovan business news portal Mold-street found out that Air Invest, company that controls Chișinău International Airport under a concession contract, has delays in its investment and dubious transfers to the Presidential Administration of Russia.

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In a Facebook post, Air Invest claims that the article is a “cheap attempt to destroy the image and the activity of the enterprise, that successfully manages and modernizes the Chișinău Airport”.

Mold-Street writes that a government commission evaluated the company’s investment into the airport at the level of 61,79 million euros until 31 December 2016. At the same time, after three years of concession, the value of finished work was estimated at only 47,7 million euros until 25 August 2017.

In addition, dubious transfers from Avia Invest to other companies of decision-makers of the airport holder have been found, according to a case court in April 2016. The prosecutors then found that decision-makers at Avia Invest SRL, ” using their job positions in personal and material interests (…), fictitiously transferred a part of the company’s profits to affiliated companies, causing substantial damage to the public interest and/or to the rights and interests protected by law of the physical or juridical persons”.

During 2013-2015, Air Moldova paid Avia Invest some 256,1 million lei for the landing services and the “modernization tax”. Later, Avia Invest transferred the money to other companies affiliated to Ilan Shor, the banker thought to be the mind behind the Grand Moldovan Theft, who happened to be the chair of the company’s board.

Some transfers were directed to interesting destinations. Between 27 December 2014 and 30 March 2015, Avia Invest transferred 109,6 million lei to Nobil Air SRL as a loan, which then loans the money to Airklassika Group. The latter converted the funds in US dollars and sent them to the “Center for Financial and Juridical Assistance”, belonging to the Presidential Administration of Russia. A similar transfer of 8,25 million lei (US dollars, in the last position) was made from Avia Invest to the Russian “Center” through Moldclassica International, Dufremol SRL, and Airklassika Group.

The prosecutors also found that funds of approximately 4,1 million US dollars and 6 million euros coming as payment from Air Moldova was diverted by Avia Invest through Aviaconsulting to Stanlex Impex LP from the UK- dissolved in April 2016.

The court case was later closed by the Buiucani Court of Chișinău, citing the legality of company’s transfers. The Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office also closed the investigation in June 2016, claiming that the court decision is irrevocable.

In 4 years of Airport’s concession, Air Invest changed a lot of its owners and beneficiaries. The founding owner of the company, Habarovski Aeroport, holds only 5% of the shares, while the Cyprus-based, 2 years old Komaksavia Airport Invest Ltd has 95%.

The International Airport of Chișinău concession to Avia-Invest under dubious conditions in 2013 has been a subject of controversy in the Moldovan society as a case of high-level corruption. Avia-Invest is considered to be an off-shore company with dubious shareholders and almost no experience in the aviation services industry. The even more dubious businessman and mayor of Orhei, Ilan Shor, is the head of the administration council of Avia-Invest. Shor’s Air Klassica, a service provider in the airport, received a 40,4 million lei loan from the defrauded Unibank in 2014.

Even if the Anti-Corruption Center recommended the canceling of the contract in August 2015, the Justice Minister Vladimir Cebotari found no reasons for that and the prosecutors didn’t do anything to investigate the concession of the Chișinău airport, in the context of its rapidly growing traffic and profit.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

Economy

Good news! A motorway that connects European Union and Republic of Moldova could be built

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On November 7th, the representatives of the Romanian parliament adopted a law that enables the construction of a 318 km long motorway on the territory of Romania. 261 deputies out of 268 voted for promulgating of the respective law.

According to the designed project, the motorway will make the connection between a planned bridge at the border with Republic of Moldova and the A3 motorway Brașov-Borș in the neighbourhood of the city Târgu-Mureș. The most difficult segment of the road to be constructed will lay in the mountain area, where tunnel digging, and viaduct building will be needed.

The total planned cost for the motorway construction is estimated to be four billion dollars. The main financing sources include the Romanian Government budget through the Transportation Ministry budget, external loans, as well as European grants and/or public-private partnerships.

The planned motorway from Targu-Mures to the border of Republic of Moldova| Photo source: realitateafinanciara.net

During the implementation of the project, the yearly government budget law will specify the amount of appropriations that will be allocated to this objective, according to the financial necessities communicated by the Transportation Ministry. The latter will be responsible for the coordination of the works and for starting the procedures required for the investment within 30 days following the date of entry into force of the law.

The law in question was initiated by 70 senators and deputies from all parties that are members of the Romanian parliament. It was especially supported by the members of NLP (National Liberal Party) and SRU (Save Romania Union) that displayed unionist messages like “Moldova asks for the highway” and “The highway of the Great Union.” More information on the topic here.

As the motorways are designed for high speed vehicular traffic, they need a special infrastructure and a higher amount of investments than any other type of roads. In the European Union the number of motorways has tripled in the last 30 years, the most extensive motorway networks being in Germany, France and Spain, according to Eurostat.

Total length of motorways map (km) 2016| Photo source: ec.europa.eu

In Romania, the total length of the motorways is more than 786 km, according to the most recent data and the network is still planned to be extended.

Romania ‘s motorway map 2018| Photo source: 130km.ro

Republic of Moldova has no built motorways until this moment.

Featured photo source: startrescue.co.uk

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Economy

Moldova will receive €30.1 million to strengthen the land system

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Moldova will receive €30.1 million for the land registration and land registration project. Today, the Government approved the draft law for ratification of the Financing Agreement between our country and the International Development Association, signed in Chisinau on 17 September 2018.

The assigned money will be allocated for primary and real estate valuation, consolidation of project management and land management. At the same time, the project will also be based on the current work of the Government and the World Bank on the modernization of the tax administration and government services (eGovernment).

The partnership framework of the Republic of Moldova with the World Bank provides financial support for our country through several instruments.

Until now, the World Bank has allocated over $1 billion to more than 60 projects in various areas.

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Economy

The Moldovan currency passes the Prut river. It will be accepted for foreign exchange and banking transactions in Romania

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The Moldovan Leu will be accepted for foreign exchange and banking transactions in Romania, thanks to the cooperation of the National Bank of Moldova (NBM) with the Romanian Commercial Bank and Banca Transilvania.

The MDL / RON exchange service will be available from October 1, 2018, at the branches and counters of the main Romanian cities. The Romanian Commercial Bank is the sole shareholder of Romanian Commercial Bank of Chişinău S.A., and Banca Transilvania is a major shareholder, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), BC “Victoriabank” S.A.

Romania is the first trading partner of the Republic of Moldova, with 26% of exports and 14% of Moldovan imports in the first half of the year.

The widespread acceptance of the Moldovan leu for foreign exchange outside the Republic of Moldova is an important first step and represents an additional step towards strengthening the credibility and convertibility of the national currency.

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