Impact of a CIJM investigation: The licenses of the companies involved in cigarette smuggling through Transnistria, withdrawn

Ilie Gulca

The Public Services Agency withdrew the licenses of the Almavis and Tabimport companies, close to the Sheriff holding company in Transnistria. Deputy Chiril Motpan announced about it on his Facebook page. Reporters from the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) revealed in detail the smuggling scheme worked at the international level, a scheme tolerated by the constitutional authorities in Chisinau.

Almavis and Tabimport were the largest importers of cigarettes in Moldova. The two companies imported almost the same quantity in the Republic of Moldova as the big players on the world market of tobacco products - Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco International or British American Tabacco.

In the first nine months of 2020 alone, in January-September, the two companies - Almavis and Tabimport - brought 145 trucks of cigarettes to the Transnistrian region. The value of these shipments amounts to about 22 million dollars.

Once the cigarettes were brought to Transnistria, without being declared, a tiny part of the cigarettes was kept for local consumption, and most of it was smuggled into Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Poland and other EU countries.

The documents obtained by CIJM show that the services for Tabimport were brokered by Broctrimex SRL, a company founded by Eleonora Rotari, the wife of the town and district councilor of PSRM from Rezina, Valentin Rotari.

In fact, Almavis and Tabimport are the successors of a large-scale cigarette smuggling scheme, implemented by the Transnistrian holding Sheriff in 2012-2014, documented in a large European operation by Europol - the "Eastern White Collar Network".

Ilie Gulca

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