Commencement of airport concession file examination for Iurie Leancă and other former high-ranking officials

Viorica Mija
Colaj CIJM

On May 18th, the first court hearing will take place in the case of the Chisinau airport concession, in which eight former high-ranking officials have the status of defendants. It involves the former Prime Minister, Iurie Leancă, who served as interim in 2013 when the transaction was concluded. Additionally, the file includes the names of former Minister of Economy, Valeriu Lazăr, the director of the Public Property Agency, Tudor Copaci, the former acting general director of ÎS Aeroportul International Chisinau at that time, Petru Jardan, and other public officials. The Chisinau International Airport concession file reached the magistrates' table on May 2nd and is being managed by the magistrate at the Chisinau Court's Buiucani headquarters, Djeta Chistol. In recent years, the team at the Center for Journalistic Investigations has conducted several investigations on the subject of the Chisinau Airport concession, exposing fraudulent schemes, interests, and procedures. The investigations can be read HERE and HERE.

According to the accusers, the concession of the airport resulted in damages of over 392 million lei to the state. The head of the Anti-corruption department, Veronica Dragalin, stated that there would be indisputable evidence and 20 witnesses who would be heard in relation to the eight accused.

Dragalin also mentioned that in order to recover the damages caused, the Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office, along with ARBI and CNA, has seized assets worth a total of approximately 189 million lei.

The accused have not admitted their guilt, and the ex-Minister of the Economy, Valeriu Lazar, apparently on behalf of all the accused, declared that he would insist on public court hearings to "present to the court and all those interested the materials that demonstrate that the concession of the assets of the Chisinau International Airport was based on perfectly legal decisions."

We would like to remind you that in November 2022, the magistrates of the Chisinau Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Chisinau Court, which recognized the Airport concession contract by SRL Avia-Invest as null and void. This decision came after the Public Property Agency filed a summons against Societăță Comerciale Avia Invest SRL, through which it requested the nullification of the contract dated August 30, 2013, for the concession of the assets under the management of the Chisinau International Airport State Enterprise and the related land.

APP previously stated that it terminated the contractual relations with SRL Avia Invest due to non-compliance with contractual obligations.

"In the process of terminating the contract, APP respected all the rights of SRL Avia Invest regarding the terms and methods of establishing the performance guarantee. SRL Avia Invest failed to fulfill the contractual obligations, which led to APP's obligation to terminate the concession contract in order to avoid liability for inaction regarding the implementation of the contract. SRL Avia Invest was supposed to carry out the investments from its own sources, not from the funds accumulated from charging the 9 euro per passenger tariff. Moreover, SRL Avia Invest did not provide any financial information regarding the cost basis of the airport fee of 9 euros per passenger, nor any confirming calculations regarding the impact of the airport tax on its investments," stated the quoted source.

The Chisinau Airport concession agreement was signed under non-transparent conditions on August 30, 2013, between the Public Property Agency and the Avia Invest company. Avia Invest was founded on August 2, 2013, with a share capital of 85.1 million lei, divided equally between the Russian companies Khabarovski Airport and Kolomenski Zavod.

In early September 2019, the government led by Maia Sandu repealed four decisions regarding the concession of Chisinau International Airport, which were made during the period of 2012-2013. These decisions included the initiation of the public-private partnership project for the concession of Chisinau Airport, the approval of the concession of the Airport's assets, the approval of the report on the progress and results of the tender for the selection of the concessionaire of the assets, and the reconfirmation of the approval of the concession of the assets of the Chisinau International Airport State Enterprise. Subsequently, the Public Property Agency filed a summons against the Avia Invest SRL Commercial Company, through which it requested the recognition of the nullity of the contract dated August 30, 2013, for the concession of the assets under the management of the Chisinau International Airport State Enterprise and the related land.

Viorica Mija

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