EXCLUSIVE // Avia Invest company, affiliated with Ilan Shor, requested a fine of 100 thousand lei for Mircea Eșanu. What are the comments of ASP director

Viorica Mija
Colaj CIJM

Avia Invest, the former concessionaire of the Chisinau International Airport and controlled by Ilan Shor, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in a bank fraud case, has filed a complaint in court seeking an administrative sanction against Mircea Eșanu, the director of the Public Services Agency (ASP). They are requesting a fine of 100 thousand lei. In their complaint submitted to the Chisinau Court, Rîșcani headquarters, Avia Invest alleges that ASP failed to comply with a court order. Specifically, they claim that ASP was slow in updating the company's data and did not remove the mention of "special administration" from its history. In response, Eșanu has characterized this action as incorrect and outdated. The court of first instance did not accept Avia Invest's claims. Over the past few years, the Center for Journalistic Investigations has conducted several investigations into the Chisinau Airport concession, revealing fraudulent schemes, conflicts of interest, and procedural irregularities. You can read these investigations here and here.

On August 21, 2023, Avia Invest submitted a сlaim requesting the application of "coercive measures according to art. 254-256 of the Administrative Code against the head of the Public Services Agency, Mr. Mircea Eșanu." In justifying their request, the company refers to a conclusion from the Chisinau Court, Rîșcani headquarters, dated August 10, 2023, which stated that ASP was obliged to issue a provisional administrative act to remove the phrase/mention "suspended functions during the state of emergency in accordance with Provision of the Commission for Extraordinary Situations of the Republic of Moldova no. 2 of February 25, 2022" from the State Register of Legal Entities.

Judge Ghenadie Mîra ruled that the action cannot be admitted because "at the date of submission of the request (...), the Chisinau Court of Appeal did not have the procedure for executing the executory document, namely the conclusion of the Chisinau Court (Rîșcani headquarters) on August 10, 2023."

On the other hand, ASP director Mircea Eșanu told Anticoruptie.md that he did not expect any other verdict. "The court has made the only correct decision in this case. Avia Invest's complaint is outdated and can only be considered "mischievous," given that their schemes at the airport were halted. Furthermore, the requested changes do not fall within my prerogatives; these tasks are the responsibility of the registrar, upon whom I can not exert pressure," commented Mircea Eșanu on the complaint against him and the court's decision.

The civil, commercial, and administrative litigation panel of the Chisinau Court of Appeal has accepted the Republic of Moldova Government's request against the Cyprus offshore company Komaksavia Airport Invest Ltd, which owns 95% of Avia Invest shares. Both these companies are affiliated with Ilan Shor. The Government is seeking the recognition of a decision made by the Arbitration Court of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (Sweden) in August 2022, which rejected the request of Komaksavia Airport Invest Ltd and awarded the country a compensation sum of 216,678 euros for expenses related to the arbitration procedure. The two companies have been given a two-week deadline to submit all the evidence supporting their objections in court.

In early August 2022, the Arbitration Court of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (Sweden) rejected the request by the offshore company from Cyprus, Komaksavia Airport Invest Ltd, against the Republic of Moldova concerning compliance with the concession contract, which would have otherwise incurred a compensation payment of 883.7 million euros for the investments made.

"The court ruled that Komaksavia had not made any investments in Chisinau International Airport assets. On the contrary, as mentioned, Komaksavia was obliged to cover the mentioned expenses for the Republic of Moldova, thereby saving it from paying arbitration fees amounting to 422,500 euros, which were left to Komaksavia," announced the Minister of Justice at the time, Sergiu Livtinenco, expressing gratitude to lawyer Mihai Buruiană for his work and the outcome achieved.

Chisinau International Airport  returned to state management in March 2023. Consequently, Avia Invest, a company affiliated with the fugitive deputy Ilan Shor, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in the billion-dollar case, no longer holds any property rights over the airport, and all assets have become state-owned.

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

In August 2019, Igor Munteanu, the President of the Commission of Inquiry for the analysis of the organization and development of privatization and public property, notified the General Prosecutor's Office and the National Anticorruption Center regarding the investigation into the manner in which Chisinau Airport was concessioned. Subsequently, the Internal Protection and Anticorruption Service (SPIA) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, along with employees from the Chisinau Municipal Prosecutor's Office, conducted searches at Chisinau International Airport.

At the beginning of September of the same year, the Government, led by Maia Sandu, revoked four decisions related to the concession of Chisinau International Airport, which were made between 2012 and 2013. These decisions concerned the initiation of the public-private partnership project for the airport's concession, approval of the concession of airport assets, approval of the Report on the conduct and results of the tender for the selection of the concessionaire of the assets, as well as 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, seeking the recognition of the nullity of the contract dated August 30, 2013, for the concession of assets under the management of the Chisinau International Airport State Enterprise and the related land.

Viorica Mija

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