Silvia Radu, independent millionaire candidate

Mariana Colun
19/10/2016
Silvia Radu. Foto: CIJM

Silvia Radu is known by public opinion because she served as chairperson of Gas Natural Fenosa Company by last year. She is the wealthiest candidate for presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova.  She earned incomes worth 10 million lei within one year. She owns two apartments, a luxury house, three cars, agricultural plots and a pond, which she leased for 30 years and was not included in the statement on income. Independent candidate for the position of head of state was Valentin Vizant’s business partner, godfather of Democrat MP Sergiu Sirbu. Now, Silvia Radu launched her own political project.

Silvia Radu, 44, graduated Moldova State University, Navarra University in Barcelona and the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Moldova. She started her career in 1995 within the Department of energy, energy resources and combustible, then at the State Enterprise „Moldtranselectro”.  In 2000, he joined the company „Union Fenosa”, and in 2008 she became president of this enterprise and worked until November 30, 2015 when she announced that she withdraws. She was honorable consul of the Republic of Moldova, president of the European Business Association in Moldova and member of the Association of Business Women in Moldova. On November 4, 2014 she was decorated the distinction Cross of the “Isabela Catolica Order” by the king of Spain.

Immovable worth millions and undeclared pond

According to the statement on property, presented at the Central Election Commission (CEC), Silvia Radu is one of the wealthiest candidates in presidential elections. Thus, in the past 2 years, together with her husband, they received incomes worth 13.5 million lei.  Family of the candidate in presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova has over 33 thousands lei and almost 185 thousands euros (over 4 million lei). Also, couple Radu own 3 cars:  Audi A8  and 2 Volkswagen.

Silvia Radu's house. Photo> zdg.md

In her statement on property, Silvia Radu reported a construction with a surface of 42,5 square meters, 2 apartments with a total surface of 207,0 square meters and a house of 220,6 square meters. According to Ziarul de Garda, the house was purchased in 2004 and is on str. Milano in Buiucani sector of the capital and was pledged between 2006 and 2009 to Energbank for one million lei. It has a cadastral value of over 2 million lei.

Also, the family owns 2 plots- one with a surface of 0,0613 hectares in district Hancesti, home district of Silvia Radu, 25 plots with the total surface of 33 hectares in district Hincesti and a plot of 3,3 hectares in district Cimislia. In a notification posted on the Corruption Map, Silvia Radu was accused of hiding some properties. She did not report about leasing a lake in village Farladeni, district Hancesti. In the same settlement, she owns 33 hectares of vineyards and orchards. Contacted by phone, Pavel Barbos, mayor of the locality, member of PDM denied the information. „There is nothing wrong with this woman”, replied the mayor.

Silvia Radu denies any involvement in the case with the pond in village Farladeni. „I am not involved in the case with the pond in Farladeni. Our plots are near the pond and we wanted to lease it, but it was not possible”, said Silvia Radu for portal Anticoruptie.md. She pointed that she leases the pond in the neighboring village, Ivanovoca Noua, district Cimislia where she owns the plot with 3,3 hectares. „I leased it for a period of 25 years”, said the candidate for presidential elections. Data from Cadaster show that on October 28, 2014 the lake in the village Ivanovca Noua was leased by Vergiliu Radu, Silvia Radu’s husband, not for 25, but 30 years. The transaction is not included in the statement on property submitted by Silvia Radu to CEC.

The pond leased by family Radu. Photo: cadastru.md

Asked why she did not reported this immovable, candidate for presidential elections said that she did not know that she should declare property which she leases. „ The pond in Ivanovca Noua is not private property, it is state property”, said Silvia Radu. Iurie Ciocan, member of  CEC  and former head of the institution contradicts her. „Candidates in election campaign must declare everything that they own- either bailment agreement, rent, land lease. If someone owns immovable, he or she becomes wealthier and has a value. One should report everything”, said Iurie Ciocan.

Businesses and relationship with godfather of Democrat MP Sergiu Sirbu

Silvia Radu’s statement on income shows that she and her husband are involved in many businesses. Radu Agro SRL, company registered in one of the 2 apartments owned by family Radu with a surface of 67,5 square meters, on boulevard Stefan cel Mare si Sfant, was founded in January 2011 and is specialized in grapes. Also, with the help of this company, this couple owns many plots in districts Hancesti and Cimislia. According to the recent financial report, the company did not bring incomes from sales in the past 4 years.

The second company of Silvia Radu, Gate for Capital Limited, was registered in Great Britain in August 2015.  „I worked with some international funds that asked me to represent them in the eastern part of the former soviet territory and with the help of this company, I intended to attract investment funds in major projects that were not related to the Republic of Moldova then, but these projects were not implemented”, said Silvia Radu in a press club held with investigative journalists. Currently, the candidate for the seat of president of the Republic of Moldova owns 100% of this company’s shares. According to the data from the register of UK companies, initial founders of the company, except Silvia Radu, were the Spanish Raul Carlos Rosales Araque and Valentin Vizant, god father of the democratic MP Sergiu Sirbu. Valentin Vizant is currently a well-known businessman. In the period 2001 -2005, he was secretary of the Central Election Commission and in 2005-2008; he was director of the State Civil Aviation Administration.  Then, he served as director of the State Enterprise „Posta Moldovei”. In 2014, Vizant was No. 5 in the electoral list of the Party „Patria”, together with politician Renato Usatii in the election campaign for parliamentary elections dated November 30.

According to Rise Moldova, Silvia Radu founded another company with Valentin Vizant and with the kazach Alkhan Sultanov - Gate for Space Limited which is now owned by Vizant after both of them separated.  

The third company involving Silvia Radu is Fresh & Green SRL, specialized in agriculture. According to the statement on property, in 2014, the candidate for presidential elections owned 10% of the shares of the company. Currently, Catalin-Traian Giosan, director of „Pro TV” is the only founder of this company.  

Except these companies, Silvia Radu owns 80 titles of security rights of sale with a total value of 375 euros at Banco Santander, a Spanish bank. She keeps her savings there.

Rise in tariffs to electricity

The period  when Silvia Radu managed “Gas Natural Fenosa" was marked by several requests for  rises in tariffs for electricity and  under threat of trial if these are not approved by the National Energy Regulatory Agency (ANRE). In March 2013, "Adevarul Moldova" wrote that Gas Natural Fenosa group has requested an increase of about 14% of tariffs on electricity for the population, though in 2012 it has recorded a net profit of 29 million euros (about 460 million lei). The company explained the request by "rise in tariff components, namely the purchase price of electricity from producers by 3%, rise by 4.5% of the tariff for electricity transmission services, the difference in leu-dollar increase and investment of 286 million lei of the company Gas Natural Fenosa in Moldova in 2012 ", writes a press release of the company.

Silvia Radu. Photo: CIJM

Another request to increase power tariffs was registered in 2015. In March, the company Gas Natural Fenosa requested tariff increase by 51 percent, up to 2 lei and 30 bani for a kilowatt / hour. The energy supplier grounded the request by the depreciation of leu against dollar. Four months later, on July 1, the electricity supplier requested to increase the tariff by 60 percent. Gas Natural Fenosa said that if in the next two weeks the rate does not increase, only 30 percent of the country's energy needs could be met. "Calculate, 30 % from 24 hours. As in the past, energy per hour ", said Silvia Radu. President of “Gas Natural Fenosa" says that because of unadjusted tariffs, the company has accumulated debts worth 1 billion 300 million lei against the Cuciurgan power plant. "We hope there will be no disconnections, but they can occur at any time if prices do not increase", added Radu.

According to Mold-Street, quoted by Timpul.md, there was less probability of ceasing or reducing   the delivery of electricity by the Moldovan Power Plant Cuciurgan,  said lieutenant-colonel of the Service of Security and Information within the meeting of the Commission for national security, defense and public order. „First of all, this producer, controlled by Russian group „Inter RAO EES” does not have the possibility to sell the energy produced on other markets. They tried to deliver it to region Odesa, Ukraine, but failed”, said officer of SIS. Pascarenco did not exclude a possible lever for blackmail, especially when cold season comes. Moldova does not have other sources to purchase the necessary quantity of electricity to prevent mass disconnections.

In parliamentary hearings, MPs accused Silvia Radu, suggesting that power provider requests rise in the tariff to protect its own profit. Following some debates, ANRE increased electricity tariffs by 37 percent, but suspended the decision for two months. This decision displeased representatives of "Gas Natural Fenosa", who said that the rise does not enable the company to recover losses. Subsequently, ANRE was under threat of trial. "We do not want to go to international courts, but if a solution is not found to recover losses, we will sue the Moldovan state to international courts", said Silvia Radu. According to her, the company would have accepted a payment by installment, but it would not have accepted to renounce the money which it clamed of having lost and would like to recover it.

Scandal with  Energokapital

According to an analysis on portal noi.md, during the meeting of the parliamentary Commission, they revealed that intermediaries are involved in the schemes of electric energy purchase. It is about the state enterprise „EnergoCom”, wherefrom „Gas Natural Fenosa” buys electricity, but not directly from Moldova CTE ( Power Plant in Cuciurgan- company located on the left bank of the Nistru River whose owner is the Russian company  Inter RAO EES). „We have signed the main agreement with Moldovan CTE for one year.  Actually every month, we sign the agreement with „EnergoCom”, because this company delivers cheaper electricity than the price shown in the agreement with Moldovan CTE”, said Silvia Radu. It is worth mentioning that „EnergoCom” purchases electricity per kWt, but nobody knows why the price proposed by „EnergoCom” is smaller by 0,005 cents – 0, 6795 US cents /kWt – than in the agreement with Gas Natural Fenosa. According to information from transnistrian press, there is at least one intermediary company in the scheme. It is about SA „Energokapital”, established in late 2014 and that immediately became leader at payments to the budget. The press wrote previously that Energokapital has its office in Tiraspol and is controlled inclusively by many off shore companies that have direct relations with companies involved in the theft of about one billion dollars from the Moldovan banking system.

Portal Anticoruptie.md has described previously the scheme by which the intermediary company Energokapital transfers the money from electricity on the accounts of founding off-shore companies, and the Republic of Moldova has to pay both for the electricity delivered and for the debts registered on the left of the Nistru River for the gas used for the production of this energy.  In 2015, losses born by  Moldovagaz  because of this scheme reached 258,4 million dollars. Energokapital's net profit was $ 38.8 million. Earlier, a former employee of the so-called law institution in Transnistria presented several documents confirming that the money from the profit of the intermediary company was transferred on the account of the off-shore company Ornamental Art Limited, through subsidiary No. 17 of Victoriabank where Energokapital has opened an account.

At least that is clear from the documents submitted in mid-July by Alexandr Haricikov, an investigator from the left bank of Nistru River, which was part of the so-called special parliamentary committee investigating the currency crisis in Transnistria, reports local TV station TSN. The documents presented by Haricikov prove that money paid for energy did not reach the Transnistrian banks, but were automatically transferred in the form of dividends to the company " Ornament ART Limited", an offshore in  Hong Kong. Last year, through accounts of Energokapital from Victoriabank, the offshore company has been paid 19 million dollars on accounts opened in the Latvian bank  Aizkraukles Banka. This bank was sanctioned recently for its involvement in the theft from the Moldovan banking system.

This year, there were transferred about 4.8 million dollars, according to a report in February 25, 2016 of the Administration Board of the company Energokapital. Investigator Haricikov claims that this money was not used to pay taxes. However, the head of the so-called Parliament’s committee of inquiry, Olga Dubrovina requested to hush up the case.  Haricikov sent the documents to the Prosecutor General of Russia after they discovered that the money paid by "Energokapital" for Russian gas was deposited into a fund wherefrom it has never been transferred to Gazprom.

Silvia Radu denies of having signed a power purchase agreement through Energokapital.

"When I was chairperson of Gas Natural Fenosa, Energokapital representatives have come up with a proposal to conclude a contract for electricity delivery.  I said a 'no', because an international company that respects law and transparency in this country cannot afford to sign a contract with an intermediary registered in an offshore zone. Then, we decided to continue to have agreements with the main supplier – Cuciurgan power plant. It was very important for me and for the company that all contracts related to deliveries to consumers in the Republic of Moldova be transparent, with legal entities registered and legally recognized, avoiding interpretations of offshore or others that do not comply with the policy of ethics and fairness of an international company", commented Silvia Radu at a press club held by the Center for Investigative Journalism within the campaign " Transparent presidential elections ".

"By the time when I left the office of president," Gas Natural Fenosa "had no legal relationship with Energokapital, I have never signed any contract", said the candidate for presidential elections. Radu added that no one else could sign contracts in her stead, because she was the only entitled person to sign the documents and her resignation from "Gas Natural Fenosa" has nothing to do with the information in the press.

Political ambitions

Silvia Radu revealed in some presidential debates that after she quitted Gas Natural Fenosa, she had intended to launch a political party, she worked over this project, and later she had the opportunity to participate in presidential elections. "I did not say that I give up the idea of political project after the presidential elections", replied Radu, when she was asked if she had abandoned the idea to create a party.

"I am convinced that what we have now in Moldova, is a country where politicians have forgotten that they must serve the people. We have state institutions captured by politicians who do not understand that their function is to serve the Moldovan people. Citizens of Moldova should ask themselves why this constitutional principle by which people is the real ruler, cannot exercise its power”, replied Silvia Radu when she was asked if Moldova is a captured state. 

Campaign’s funding

According to financial reports submitted to CEC, Silvia Radu is funding by herself the electoral campaign. So far, together with her husband, she invested about 2 million lei, the equivalent of a fifth of family income for 2015. Out of this sum, Silvia Radu paid 130 thousands lei for billboards. Other expenses constitute 1.75 million for advertising on radio, TV and online media. Silvia Radu has paid other 66 000 lei for electoral and political consulting. She claims that she contracted a PR company in current elections, to prevent obligations for paying a team.

This investigation was accomplished under the project "Shining a light on electoral transparency in Moldova", carried out by the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Center for Analysis and Prevention of Corruption and Ziarul de Garda, with the support of Freedom House.

Mariana Colun
19/10/2016

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