False Flags of Moldova: Azerbaijan-Netherland’s Track
The story of Giurgiulești port, „the incubator” of Moldavian flag for ships business, begins with an extremely onerous business involving the communists led by former president Vladimir Voronin, Azerbaijan businessmen and companies, Swiss credit companies, other companies registered in the Netherlands, as well as a BERD former employee that later became one of the business heads.
One of the constant players that are to be described later on is the business man, Thomas Mosser. The story of the Romanian port of Giurgiulești began in 1993 when Andrei Sangheli, Moldavian former prime minister intended to build a port right in the area where Prut river flows into the Danube.
The project also includes an oil wharf and Chisinau government immediately contracted a loan of 25, 5 million USD to put into practice this ambitious project. Despite their promise to build this port, after 10 years the government hardly achieved 30% of this project and this thing led to identifying backup solutions. “The rescue” came in 20014, when the communists in power settled a deal with three Azerbaijan companies, Azpetrol, Azertrans and Azpetrol Refinery, subsidiaries of a giant company in Baku. The agreement set out a 99 years lease in exchange for investments of 250 million dollars. The agreement also provides for extinction by Azerbaijan of Moldova’s debts to BERD, as well as building an oil terminal.
The brains of taking over the port is a precocious businessmen
This is the part where Thomas Moser and the Dutch company, Easeur Holding BV, headquartered in Amsterdam start to play their role. According to some interesting references on Moser made by the American-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, he worked in the bank system and many audit and consultancy companies before and during his university studies. Moser started his career within the German Bank for Development in 1994 at the age of 24. In 1996 he became the employee of BERD, being part of the team in charge of developing projects of oil, gas and mining exploration in Russia, Central Asia and Caucasia. In 1999, Moser was engaged at BERD President’s office, the German Horst Kohler who subsequently ruled the IMF during 2000-2004. In 2001, Moser was appointed BERD chief of mission in Azerbaijan and in 2003 he became the first vice-president of the Department for Development and Finance within Azpetrol. In 2005, Moser took over Azpetrol, Azertrans and Azpetrol Refinery, renaming them as Bemol Retail, Danube Logistics and Bemol Refinery, after the arresting of Rafiq Aliev, Azpetrol chief in Baku. In a press statement in Quatar, while mentioning about the objective of building an oil terminal in Moldova, Moser also said: “we are ready to enter the markets of the Danube riverside countries”. In other words, these are the constant economic interests of Russia in the Danube countries. Moser was well aware of the underlying details of the Port of Giurgiulești business, since he negotiated the terms of Moldova’s debt redemption to BERD in 2001-2003.
Complicated Financial Schemes
In 2011, being deep in debts, Easeur Holding BV agreed with its main creditor, Credit Suisse and its secondary creditor, New Ventures Capital NV (company owned by Rafiq Aliev) upon a mutual agreement of Easeur debts redemption to Credit Suisse, after many failed attempts to reimburse the expired loan, explained Danube Logistics in a press release in Chisinau. Based on this agreement, Danube Logistics Holding BV, then representing an investment tool set up by Credit Suisse and Thomas Moser, bought from Easeur Holding BV 80% of the shares owned by Danube Logistics Holding BV and concurrently took over its debts to Easeur Holding BV and Bemol Retail SRL. In exchange for these assets, Danube Logistics Holding BV took over 28, 6 millions USD expired loan of Easeur Holding BV to Credit Suisse. Taking into account Danube Logistics SRL debts to third parties in the value of 7.5 millions USD, Danube Logistics Holding BV took over from Easeur a consolidated debt of 36.1 millions USD. Practically, Danube Logistics is the only operator in the port of Giurgiulești while the state owns just 10% of the port’s land that has been leased for 99 years, in 2004.
Giurgiuleşti Port, Captain Feud
It is known that the Republic of Moldova, a state bordering the sea for a distance of about 400 m, achieved an important performance in the maritime domain, registering in 2012 a fleet of 700 vessels. During the same year, after detection under Moldavian flags of Iranian vessels, a commercial fleet subject of Western economic sanctions, Chisinau deleted them from the list of its vessels. Due to this fact, the Government of the Republic of Moldova has changed the procedure of vessels registration by a Decision establishing the approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration before the vessels registration (MFAEI).
Up 2012, the foreign freighters/owners were attracted by the facile conditions of registration, particularly, by the quick procedure for extension or cancellation of registration and issuance of documents. We point out that the verification of documents for registration only by the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port was made in one day. Also, the owners were seduced by the absence of age limit for vessels. We emphasize that there are vessels over 50 years circulating under the flag of the Republic of Moldova.
The introduction in 2012 of MFAEI approval in the procedure of vessels registration, and also the extension of documents verification period up to five days, discontented the ex-management of Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port. According to former captain, Petru Codreanu, this issue resulted in the reduction of revenues to the state budget. “In 2012, we recorded about 16 million [MDL] per year [about 1,3 million USD], now we are in decrease, we’ll have approximately 11 – 12 million [MDL] [about 900.000 USD] at the end of the year [2014 – a.n. (author note)]. Therefore, in comparison with 2012, we registered a decrease with approximate 20%”, declared Codreanu in 2014 for a post TV. Consequently, the captain has requested in the same interview the abrogation of this Governmental modification, qualifying it worthless for the Republic of Moldova.
The fact that the Moldavian state came to have a huge fleet, to the detriment of its credibility, constituted for the former captain an important performance: „We had more [vessels – a.n.], we reached 700 in 2012! But now, because of this modification, our services are disadvantaged, the procedure takes up to five days! This is the reason why so many vessels have gone. We’ll insist to return to the initial procedure, the vessels to be registered without the approval of Ministry of Foreign Affairs!”, declared Codreanu with aplomb in the same interview. The incurence of an additional filter of vessels verification was inconvinient for Codreanu who, untill 2012, was the only one who „cut and hung” at procedure of vessels registration.
With or without approval from MFAEI, according to the laws, registering a vessel under Moldavian flag would not be an easy procedure compared with other states. Under the laws regulating this procedure, the freighters who want to register in the State Register of Vessels of the Republic of Moldova are obliged to submit to the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port a set of documents confirming the seaworthy condition of vessel, to respect the international conventions on naval transport, ownership of the vessel and no restrictions on ship/freighter/owner. The Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port examines the set of documents and submits them for approval to MFAEI. Additionally, the ship owners are obliged to sign a statement that they are aware of the Decree no 255 dated 16 June 2014 of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine that the ports Kerch, Sevastopol, Theodosia and Yalta, beginning with 16 June 2014, are considered closed. The infringement of this decision is considered a violation of international laws and, also, the sovereignty of Ukraine and would be sanctioned according to the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The Foreign Ministry tries to cover the problem
The Press Office of the Foreign Affairs and European Integration Ministry of Republic of Moldova (FAEIM) first denied that they have any attributions in the process of the registration of the ships under Moldovan flag. In the official answer to our request to have a list of the ships registered in Republic of Moldova, the communication responsible for the Ministry says: „We inform you that the responsibility for the registering under Moldovan flag of the foreign ships, including the systematization of the requests, belongs to the Transportation Ministry and to the Captaincy of Giurgiulești Harbor. That's why we kindly ask you to address these questions to these intuitions."
After insistence and the demonstration that the law says something else about this process, and every ship owner needs the formal approval of the FAEIM, the Press Office sent an information about the number of approvals and refusals for the last two years. „Following the amendment of the Government Decision nr. 855, regarding the approval of the Registration rules of the ships in the Republic of Moldova (conformable GD nr 968, from 21.12.2012), FAEIM was empowered to approve the registration requests of the commercial maritime ships under the flag of Republic of Moldova. Thereby, in 2015, we analyzed 49 requests. We approved 38 requests, and we refused 11. In 2016, we had five requests. Two of them were approved, and three were refused."
Our requests to receive the nominal list of these ships, as well as the testing procedure of the ship owners, remain without an answer from the communicators of the Foreign Ministry.
R. Moldova, in the „select” company of Panama and Liberia
After receiving the positive approval of MFAEI, the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port initiates the process of registration. The freighters pays in the state Register of Vessels of the Republic of Moldova (who 99% of them are not residents of the Republic of Moldova), a registration fee and annual confirmation for it. „For this kind of services, there are perceived financial resources from abroad”, pointed out the financial importance of this service for the Republic of Moldova Igor Zaharia, responsible for water transport services within the Ministry of Transport and Roads Infrastructure of the Republic of Moldova.
The official also disclosed that the registration of vessels is highly spread worldwide and that the most tonnage of world fleet is registered in the states practicing a similar procedure like the Republic of Moldova. „The biggest global fleets, where the ship owners are not residents of states that register the vessels, are Panama, Liberia, Hong-Kong, and the European Union countries, for example Malta and Cyprus”, said Zaharia.
A vessel registration is cheaper than a car registration
Despite the fact, that the authorities responsible for the water transport services, emphasizes the financial importance of foreign vessels registration for the Republic of Moldova, a owner of a vessel, for example, with a capacity of 2.800 tones, can purchase the right to sail under the Moldavian flag with about 850 EURO! This fact represents a bizarre situation, because a Moldavian citizen who wants to buy a car from abroad, for example, produced in 2006, with an engine capacity of 1998 cm3, must pay for customs fees and for car registration about 2.300 EURO. Therefore, registration of a vessel in the Republic of Moldova is cheaper than the registration of a car! In conclusion, the lying of Moldavian authorities concerning the “important” contribution of registration fees to the state budget is proving to be a bedtime story.
How to explain, however, this impetuosity of manager Codreanu to modify the procedure of vessels registration? The registration of vessels in the Republic of Moldova is a profitable business for dozens of intermediate companies representing the freighters in the Republic of Moldova, a part of them being owners of vessels. Their contracts can be easily found on internet. A representative of a company that provides services of vessels registration in the State Register of Vessels of the Republic of Moldova, the advocate Aurel Furtuna, contacted by us, communicated that the prices charged by the Moldavian state, compared with neighboring countries, are the cheapest, and the cost for the permanent registration of a vessel, for example, an oil tank, including license for radio station, costs in average 2.000 USD. Obviously, the total amount of registration depends on the vessel capacity and the number of frequencies for the radio station, and also other factors. An issue that can cause suspicions regarding the transparency of intermediaries selection is the fact that the actual management inherited from its predecessor the list of intermediaries/representatives such as: GIP MANAGEMENT SRL; GEOSHIP COMPANY SRL; VLANTA INTER SRL; DAGNA SRL; ACOMAR TRANS SRL; CABINETUL AVOCATULUI VIOREL FURTUNĂ; FURTUNA and ASSOCIATES; CULIS NICOLAE.
One of our reporters contacted several intermediate companies from this list, introducing himself as an employee of an alleged subsidiary of the company „Volga Shipping Gemstone” from Rostov on Don. He requested the services of intermediaries from the Republic of Moldova to pass a vessel produced in 1967 from the Russian flag under Moldavian flag, in order to scrap it.
The representatives of the companies DRAGNA, GIP MANAGEMENT, VLANTA-INTER undertook to provide services to our reporter, to arrange this business. Moreover, they excelled to offer consultancy how to pass the procedure of documents verification by the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port. No employees of the three companies asked about vessel’s history, whether it is or not subject of international sanctions, if the vessel is in an adequate technical state to effectuate transport races etc
In July 2015, as captain of Giurgiulesti Port was appointed Victor Andruşca. The authorities responsible for the naval transportation avoided telling us what actually happened with Petru Codreanu, rather, why he was replaced by Andruşca. The sources from Giurgiulesti Port communicated that Petru Codreanu had simply disappeared in Braila, Romania. The replacement and the enigmatic departure of Codreanu, more precisely, without being publicized seem to be stranger since on behalf of him, according to Anticorruption National Center (ANC), was not opened any criminal prosecution.
Contraband with gravels for businesses with the state?
However, the captain Codreanu has admitted more irregularities. Petru Codreanu has administrated the Giurgiulesti Port since 2009 up July 2015, appointed in this function by the Communist regime led by Vladimir Voronin. Beginning with 2009 up 2012, this public institution was not entitled to make goods transportation. However, in the same period, the situation around the port was repeatedly deplored by unofficial complaints of ÎCS „Danube Logistics” SRL (the sole operator of goods from Giurgiulesti Port) to the European Commission Delegation in Chisinau. The passengers’ terminal, located nearby, had the reputation of a channel of contraband, thing that maybe discouraged the attraction of foreign investors in the free zone of the port.
Additionally, the administration of Danube Logistics pointed out transactions of import of gravels through the passengers’ terminal. We want to mention that the purpose of this place was not for these kinds of actions at that time, the administration of port has allowed the construction of one improvised wharf in the border area! Though, the respective transactions cause serious ecological damages to Prut and Danube basins!
The gravels and grains transportation through the port of passengers would be made by „Acomar-trans” SRL, which founder and manager is Iurie Arnăut , the same company seems to be controlled by Petru Codreanu. The gravels were bought from the enterprise „Hidromineral” from Greci, Tulcea, Romania. Contacted by us, the representatives of the company Hidromineral denied that they have ever sold gravels to any company from the Republic of Moldova during the last three years, but they don’t know the situation prior to that date. At the moment, this company is insolvent. Also, live animals and, more recently, scrap had been exported and imported through the port for passengers.
An illegal quay instead „leisure and recreation”
Another violation of law committed by the authorities was the rent of 18,5 ha territory located in the immediate vicinity of the harbor to the „Vas International Plus” Ltd by the State Agency of the Forests „Moldsilva”. In this border area, which already excludes the possibility of renting, in contradiction with the contract for the development and reconstruction of the area, build an improvised quay, which serves to discharge the gravel, an activity prohibited by international rules. Despite the warnings of the General Prosecutor's Office and the State Ecological Inspectorate, from May 2011, to cease that kind of activity, the company continued the storage of the gravel, situation that could lead to sanctions of the Giurgiulești Harbor by international organizations.
The rental contract for the land where the quay was illegally built dates from November 2010, according to documents issued by Moldsilva (see facsimile) - when Vas International Plus SRL requested an area of 18, 5 hectares to build, attention, in the border area, a place for recreation and leisure for visitors. For the next three years, Moldsilva inspectors did not bother the owners of Vas International Plus. In 2013, the state agency that manages the Moldovan forests sued the private company, noting that the area of leisure and recreation has not materialized as anything, except the... quay fot the gravel transport.
Trials, won in turn by Moldsilva, were not ended, as was normal, with the demolition of the illegal objective. In June 2015, the state agency, showing unusual kindness to those who broke the law and the contracts for five years, coordinates a common project with Vas International Plus, which would build, finally the leisure and relaxation area that was promised five years ago. But, adding, illegally, in the new contract the construction of the existing quay. Provision against to the Regulation of the forest rent, approved by Government Decision no. 187 from 20.02.2008, which provides that the renter cannot build on the rented spaces only constructions destinated to leisure and relaxation of the tourists.
All these law violations are happening in the mandate of Sergiu Palihovici Minister of Environment. Just after the dismissal of the government team from which he makes part, the fresh Minister Valeriu Munteanu analyzed the illegalities and he demands explanations from Moldsilva. In response, the state agency and the private company come back with a brand new project, coordinated by Moldsilva, which didn't include any pleasure or recreating building, but only 5 years-old quay, where the illegal gravel transports already happened.
The Environment Ministry has rejected any authorization for the construction and promised to demolish the clandestine quay. According to the spokesman Alexander Bostan, the Ministry already notified the General Prosecutor and the National Anti-Corruption Center, to identify the perpetrators of these illegally actions.
Father captain, daughter cashier
Another company which would have been transported gravels from Romania, through the same place illegally built, was „Bantcarad” SRL, which founder is Carolina Codreanu, none other than the daughter of the former captain, Petru Codreanu. According to the website for public tenders www.tender.gov.md, this company has executed a wide range of repairs of roads, medical institutions, kindergartens, schools and universities in Chisinau and in other districts of the Republic of Moldova within the period 2011–2015. In addition, sources from Giurgiulesti Port informed us that Petru Codreanu would be owned ships for gravels transportation, one of it being the pusher „Akkerman”, arrested for debts in Braila, Romania. But contacted to offer us details in this case, the representatives of Braila Port told us that the pusher „Akkerman” is in Braila, but in repairs and was not arrested. However, the port administration informed us that this vessel is registered in Kongo.
The cousin, the best in the businesses with ships!
Within the period 2011–2015, the deputy captain of Giurgiulesti Port was the Latvian citizen Aleksandrs Moldovans, cousin of Petru Codreanu, who is in Riga now. This person would be the one to intermediate the registration of ships that had international sanctions under the flag of the Republic of Moldova. Another person, involved in the registration of foreign ships with serious infringements was the lawyer of the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port, Doina Colac.
Requesting an answer if on behalf of these persons – Petru Codreanu, Aleksandrs Moldovans and Doina Colac – were initiated any criminal cases, the representatives of the Transport Prosecutor Office refused to provide, citing the fact that to the materials of criminal processes have access only the legal authorities, the parties and other participants under the limits and the “exhaustive terms stipulated by the Code of Criminal Procedure”. „Simultaneously, we inform you that on 13 November 2015 and 16 November 2015, the Transport Prosecution Office has started criminal cases no. 2015600040 and 2015600041, based on reasonable suspicions regarding the intentional use of position status by the management of the Public Institution the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port”, it is mentioned in a note signed by the interim prosecutor of Transport Prosecution Office, Ştefan Şaptefraţ.
Bantcarad is investigated for falsity in the documents
In order to find out more information on the criminal cases on behalf of the former administration of Giurgiulesti Port, we have requested the opinion of Anticorruption Prosecution, who informed us that “the criminal investigative authority of National Center of Anticorruption is conducting the criminal case no. 2015970456, started on 09.09.2015, based on a reasonable suspicion that it was committed the delinquency under art. 335 par. (11) of Criminal Code, and more exactly falsity in the accounting documents, regarding the administration of SRL „Bantcarad” .
„Therewith, the criminal investigative authority is conducting the criminal investigation on the case no.2015600040, started on 13.11.2015, under art. 327 par (2) c) of Criminal Code [Article 327. Abuse of power or abuse of official position c) causing severe consequences, shall be punished by a fine in the amount of 1000 to 2000 conventional units or by imprisonment for 2 to 6 years, in both cases with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or to practice a certain activity for a period for 5 to 10 years.] regarding the administration of the institution “Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port”.
However, “at the moment Codreanu Petru and Moldovans Aleksandrs have no status of suspected or accused persons”, it is mentioned in an official answer offered by the anticorruption interim-prosecutor, Adrian Popenco.
The prosecutors investigate “an eventual conflict of interests”
Sources from transport prosecution office informed us unofficially that Petru Codrean carried out “things” about what Doina Colac didn’t know, and vice-versa, she carried out things unknown for her boss. “The Transport Prosecution was informed that illegalities were committed within the captaincy, the vessels were illegally registered under false documents. Following the preliminary investigations, it was found that there is a component of crime. But the fact that the criminal investigation has started does not mean that the person is guilty”, declared a source requesting anonymity.
„The maritime law is very complicated. There are no specialists in the Republic of Moldova in this domain. Only now this problem has occurred and this situation favored the legislation violation at the Captaincy of Giurgiulesti Port. There is a conflict of interest; moreover, there is a component of crime. It was opened a criminal case and a case on contraband with gravels. It is not known if Codreanu had any company dealing with registration of vessels, there may be an intermediate company, from where Codreanu received certain amounts of money”, said our source.
Moldovans denies the accusations
Former deputy captain of Giurgiulesti Port, Aleksandrs Moldovans, rejected the accusations that he was involved in the cases of registration the foreign vessels under the Moldavian flags by violating seriously the legislation. Also, Moldovans mentioned that the actual administration of Giurgiulesti Port is not composed of specialists in the domain and they execute only what they are told. He recognized that he is the cousin of Petru Codreanu. He refused to answer to other questions related to the registration of vessels in the Republic of Moldova.
Petru Codreanu, the former captain of the port and the former lawyer of the captaincy, Doina Colac, did not answer to our calls. According to the sources from the Captaincy and Ministry of Transportation, Petru Codreanu can be in Braila and Doina Colac has fled to U.S.A.
The black list and the “ghost ships” of Moldova
Moldova’s public image was seriously prejudiced by the endemic practices of corruption to register Moldavian flagged ships. In its last report of July 2015, The Memorandum of Understanding regarding state control over the ports in Paris (Paris MOU) drew the attention that most of the problematic ships in the world were registered of Tanzania, Moldova, Togo, Cook Islands and Dominican Republic flags. Thus Republic of Moldova held the second seat in this international black list. The detrimental history of Moldavian flagged ships involved in illegal activities is huge. The most recent is related to French authorities’ finding on 2.4 tons of cocaine discovered at shipboard of CARIB PALM, a Moldavian flagged vessel which was sailing from the port of Mamonal, Columbia towards Gdansk, Poland.
On the black market the drugs were estimated about 50 million EUR. According to vesseltracker.com, the ship is hold by CARIB COASTAL MARINE SHIPPING, ADDRESS 41 bq, Bequia, St Vincnet&the Grenadines. The official itinerary indicates that in the period 2013-2015 the ship operated in the Mexican Gulf area, Latin America, but also in South America. The ship was temporally registered, without forwarding all the necessary documents to the Republic of Moldova State Register for Ships, on October 5, just a month before the ship had been seized by French police. The authorities tried then to exculpate pretending that these kinds of incidents were not related to the register country, but to the naval operator and did not take into account the fact that the public image of the country was seriously damaged by both these incidents and the evasive registration of ship’s provenance, as well as of the owner company. Although Republic of Moldova is not liable for the ships of its flag, the country’ public imagine is badly affected by these embarrassing incidents.
Another scandalous case was the ship Blue Sky M which had docked at the Italian port of Galliopoli by the end of 2014, after it drifted out to the Mediterranean Sea without fuel, having on board approximately 800 immigrants, most of them Syrians eager to reach Europe. The owner of the ship was a Lebanese who bought the ship from a firm apartment headquartered in Constanța, Romania.
Crimea, the usual destination
With Crimea’s annexation by Russia and sanctions imposed to Moscow by Western countries, ships’ access to this region was reduced. Consequently, Kiev was imperative to welcome the ships of the partner countries that were sending vessels into the Crimea’s ports. April 2015, “Aliot”, the Moldavian flagged ship was arrested in Ukraine for breaching Ukrainian maritime laws and the captain was also arrested for illegally stationing in a port of Crimea peninsula.
The Ukrainian portal Black Sea News wrote that Moldavian flagged ships continued to anchor at Crimea’s ports. TASE cargo, stationed at Yalta on June 8 2015; it is owned by Russian firm Patra-Rostov and had Giurgiulesti as port of provenance. The same thing happened with the ships KONAK and HUSSEYIN AKL that had stationed several times in the ports of Kerci and Sevastopol, Crimea. In 2012, republic of Moldova was on the brink of an international diplomatic scandal when 12 Iranian ships were registered Moldavian-flagged in attempting to feint the international sanctions imposed to Teheran by Western states. That time, USA’s letter sent to President Nicolae Timofti asking explanations for that case caused adjustment of the legislation by introducing a Foreign Ministry’s notice. But the adjustments had been made in such a bad manner so that they can be breach.
Tartousi, the ship-owner who escaped the terrorists on ships presently registered in Moldova
The Republic of Moldova had become a “naval paradise” for one of the most controversial ship-owners operating in Romania who has registered many Moldavian flagged ships in the last years. His name is Mustafa Tartousi, a Syrian ship-owner who got a 7 year sentence imprisonment in October 2014, in Romania for having helped the terrorist Omar Hayssam to flee Romania. Omar Hayssam planned and organized the kidnapping of the three Romanian journalists in Iraq, on March 28, 2005.
Having being arrested and then released on the grounds of colon cancer surgery, the story of Hassam’s flee Romania is worthy of an action movie. He ran away from Constanta port on June 28, 2006, aboard Iman T ship; according to the site for global monitoring of the vessels, vesselfinder.com, the ship was for the last time reported to be Moldavian flagged active, on June, 20, 2015.
At the time of Hayssam’s flee, in 2006, Iman T ship was registered North Korean flagged. The Syrian ship-owner had purchased the ship in 2000 by means of his company, Tartousi Shipping SRL, headquartered in Constanta. Subsequently, the ship was transferred for a while to some foreign ship-owners. Since summer, 2015, when the ship was available for the last time for monitoring global vessel traffic, the ship’s statute has been uncertain, marinetraffic.com site reporting it is either “out of use”, or “disappeared”.
After many years of searching, Omar Hayssam and Mustafa Tartousi were finally sentenced, in 2014, the later one charged with orchestrating the Syrian terrorist’s flee. The Romanian prosecutors wrote in the demand that Hayssam asked for Tartousi’s help because Tartousi was well known for such flight operations, such as flee Romania via Constanta port. According to the discussions between Omar Hayssam and Mustafa Tartousi and to the plan conceived by Omar Hayssam, Tartousi was to execute the following material facts: planning and securing the route which Omar walked along Constanța area inside the port; making sure that Omar would not be identified and stopped en route by the port authorities and border police; conspired climbing aboard ship Iman T, without the crew having noticed Omar’s presence aboard; personally securing the transport both in Romanian ports and transit ones to the final destination (according to Romanian prosecutors).
Flight in Syria via Egypt
Mustafa Tartousi took Omar Hayssam, went together to Iman T ship, shortly before 2 pm, and climbed him aboard. This was possible only with the skipper’s knowledge, Tartousi Yousef, the defendant’s cousin. In the next period he managed to keep secret Omar Hayssam’s presence aboard.
At the time the ship reached Alexandria port, in Egypt, Tartousi’s trustworthy men took Omar Hayssam, thus avoiding border authorities’ control. On July 26, 2006 Iman T ship reached port of Tartous, Syria, and this was the place where Omar Hayssam and Tartoussi Yousef got off and another skipper climbed aboard, according to the prosecutors.
After years of searching, Romanian authorities succeeded in bringing Omar Hayssam in the country, on July 19, 2013. Omar Hayssam the terrorist initially escaped by Tartoussi, aboard Iman T ship was sentenced in four cases in absentia to 20 years in prison for the kidnapping of the journalists in Iraq, 16 years imprisonment in case “Volvo Truck”, 3 years imprisonment in case “Foresta Nehoiu”, 2 years imprisonment for illegally crossing the border. Mustafa Tartousi, owner of Moldovan-flagged registered ship was sentenced in the same case for helping the escape of Hayssam to 7 years in prison. Giugiulesti Captaincy, led by Captain Petru Codreanu simply registered Iman T ship, without having checked the owner and the history of the ships.
Moldavian-flagged ships still operational
Besides ship Iman, Mustafa Tartoussi owns and operates in Moldova at least 3 ships, IMA, SCORPION 1 and ASMAR. Ship IMA is owned by Tartousi’s firm, TARTOUSI SHIPPING LTD, headquartered Traian Street, Bl. K3, SC. C, ET.1, Apartment 78, no.64, Constanța, Constanța district, Romania. The actual operator of the ship is MEDITERRANEAN LINE INC., headquartered in New York, USA.
According to documents obtained in this investigation, the ship has undergone several name and owners changes, being registered other “”naval paradises”, such as Belize, Antigua& Barbuda, as well as Russia and Germany. Cargo presently makes frequent services on route Giurgiulești-Constanța and is transporting grains. Ship SCORPION 1, cargo type, built in 1978, it is owned by firm S.C. Askila Shipping SRL, Constanta; the ship operates at the same address in Constanta with the other company of Tartousi. Lately, the ship has been operating routes between Lebanon and Turkey.
This investigation was conducted as part of the "Moldova-Ukraine Anti-Corruption Initiative" project, implemented by the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Institute of Mass Information and Freedom House, with the financial support of the Government of Canada.
Investigations in the same category:
How separatists in breakaway regions mine cryptocurrencies for terrorist financing and money laundering
● Characters from the Kremlin's entourage revolve around the cryptocurrency business in the pro-Russian separatist republics of Moldova and Ukraine. ● The mining activity takes place with cheap or free raw material guaranteed by Moscow. ● Legislation in this area is still in a grey zone, and Bitcoin has exceeded the level of 25,000 US dollars per unit. Andriy, 38, lives in a modest apartment in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk. Unemployed, he decided to make some money by installing a "cryptocurrency farm" in his bedroom. He is already used to the noise of coolers, and the gain is guaranteed. "For a
SCHEMES // Protective equipment, made in Moldova, exported to Poland, as COVID-19 crisis is in full swing
In full swing of a pandemic crisis, when Moldovan hospitals are facing a lack of coronavirus protective equipment and Moldovan authorities spend millions of public money on their import, an economic agent from Balti is exporting protective equipment to Poland. The equipment was exported by two air flights, operated by Ryanair, on April 11 and 14, respectively. This happened amid the ban on the export of protective equipment, obviously, with the help of the authorities, who do not assume responsibility and say they have banned the export of gloves and masks, but not of protective equipment. The company that exported
● The main beneficiary of the cryptocurrency business in the breakaway region of Transnistria is the Sheriff holding and a former employee of the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation. ● The equipment was purchased through a bank involved in the theft of the billion. ● The actors and companies involved have businesses in the energy sector, telecommunication, internet in Crimea and in the Western countries in Europe. Tehnopark company is located in the Business Center "Rossia", one of the most modern buildings in Tiraspol, the main city of the breakaway region of Transnistria, in contrast to the grey of Soviet architecture. This is a
Vlad of Arabia: properties, interests and connections in the Middle East
● The leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova Vlad Plahotniuc reported for the first time a series of business and interests in the Middle East. ● Moldova has strengthened its relations with the countries of this region in recent years. ● One of the intermediaries is the Trans-Oil patron, Vaja Jhashi, who advised several government structures in the Middle East. ● The United Arab Emirates has been a destination for money leaks from the "Russian Laundromat" affair, as well as the "grand theft" of the billion US dollars from the Moldovan banking system. The leader of the Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc, is
European funded roads rehabilitated with significant delays
Four out of 13 companies, that have been shortlisted in international tenders over the last five years in order to rehabilitate the national roads of the Republic of Moldova, have been sanctioned for delays in the execution of the works. All fined companies are international and the amount of fines exceeds EUR 3.8 million. The four companies that were sanctioned for delays in the execution of the works were contracted during 2011-2014 for repairing several areas on national the routes Chisinau - Soroca, Chisinau - Comrat - Giurgiulesti, Chisinau - Ungheni - Sculeni and for the construction of Ungheni bypass
Bypass road, “bypassed” by the Authorities
Announced with great pomp in early 2012, Chisinau's bypass road remained just an unfulfilled promise. Five years after the announcement of the project, the authorities did not even develop a feasibility study to determine the need for the ring road and its route. In the absence of the “plan”, however, a construction company was contracted, which conducted only 3% of the works in two years on a bypass road segment that was to be ready in January 2018. The whole Bypass road would cost about EUR 200 million, money the authorities do not know where to take from. The first
Till the first earthquake happens
It's usually said about houses and building, constructed in the Republic of Moldova after 1991, they will resist before the first earthquake will happen. This is an emotional evaluation of things. And two earthquakes with a moderate magnitude that happened in September and December of 2016 proved it. What's the actual situation in the construction sphere? And, is there a possibility for a total damage to happen to a person and his property, because of builders or officials’ fault? Features in Moldavian constructions “When I was a student, my professors used to tell me: “There is an unique environment in
How several presidential candidates pocketed electoral money
The campaign for 2016 presidential elections with a budget worth almost 60 million lei has been one of the most expensive in Moldova so far. The money collected from thousands of sponsors: students, pensioners or unemployed, prosperous businessmen reached the accounts of some companies that manage TV channels. The main beneficiary of the electoral campaign held this autumn fall is the first deputy-chairman of the Democratic Party, owner of 4 TV channels. Most of the contenders aired election ads on these TV channels. About 40 per cent of electoral funds of the 12 candidates were paid to the accounts
Ukraine-Moldova-Transnistria: golden triangle of smuggling
Almost every month, law enforcement officers of Ukraine report about delaying of alcohol and cigarettes smuggling from Moldova. However, in Ukraine the quantity of smuggled goods does not become less–“Privoz” in Odessa, which is one of the oldest and largest existing markets in Europe, is crowded with contraband cigarettes. They sell it without checks and excise duties are questionable. Internet is full of proposals of Moldovan cigaretteswholesale. However, official data indicates that for more than two years Moldovacigarettesare not imported to Ukraine. However, traders are ready to sell illegal goodsby blocks, which prove the magnitude of the supply of
The grain market in Moldova, under the Russian monopoly
The wheat harvest this year was plenteous, with an average quantity of 3.4 tons per hectare. Nevertheless, the small producers will not benefit of this situation, because they are compelled to sell their grains to a derisory price. The only beneficiary is Trans-Oil, a holding consisting in a series of off-shores registered in Switzerland and Cyprus and joint-stock companies form Ukraine, Moldova and Romania. The company is controlled by the Russian citizen Vazha Dzashi, who was born in Georgia (USSR), holds an American passport and hi is member of the Council of Administration of the Moldovan Businessman Association. Trans-Oil, a
New Airline Fly One and Private Interests of the Civil Aviation Authority Director, Confirmed by ISS
Mircea Maleca, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is allegedly the real business partner of the family of Ministry of Justice Vladimir Cebotari in the new airline company Fly One. The official is hiding behind his former father- in-law from Leova. This is confirmed by a letter signed by Mihai Balan, Director of the Information and Security Service (ISS), that recently came into possession of portal Anticoruptie.md. Although its authenticity is not confirmed, ISS heads claim in an official response that the CAA managers abuse power by promoting private interests in civil aviation, which would be contrary to
Energy (in)dependence of Ukraine and Moldova: After association with the EU
The desire to join the European Union, voiced by Ukraine and Moldova, set the agenda of the authorities, including the issue of the system of purchase and supply of natural gas. Nevertheless, the assessment of the situation to date, carried out by a group of journalists from Moldova and Ukraine, shows that the market of gas in both countries still has some problems, and carries the risk of corruption. Embezzlement of public funds, key intermediary firms of dubious reputation, monopoly - these are the main features of the gas market in the two post-Soviet countries. "Moldova to Russia’s pocket". How it
New Airline in the Pocket of the Minister of Justice
A new airline will operate in Moldova as of May 2016 and will transport passengers to several European cities. The company was registered last autumn and has as founders Maria Cebotari, wife of the current Minister of Justice, Vladimir Cebotari, while his sister, Mariana Tabuica, would be the new executive director. The Minister confirmed that his family started a new business and it's just a way to earn a living. "Just like any citizen of this country, I cope with problems", says the official who gets a monthly income from ministerial activity of about 16,000 lei. Initially, Fly One promises flights
"Platonic" Ukrainians’ businesses in Chisinau
Oleksandr Pinchuk, a Ukrainian national and a former head of the National Bureau of Motor Vehicle Insurers of the Republic of Moldova, has been on the wanted list of the Moldovan authorities for almost a year by now. He became a key person of interest for the National Anticorruption Centre and the Anticorruption Prosecution Office when the Bureau suffered 30 million leu damages. However, Pinchuk, who is also a successful lawyer from Ukraine, goes to work every day, meets his partners and participates in public life of the neighboring state without any problems. We have found him and even talked
Audit with interests? Who owns the companies selected by the Ministry of Finance to carry out financial controls at state enterprises?
The government has recently approved a list of 37 audit companies, filled by the Ministry of Finance, that will audit the financial statements of state enterprises or companies in which the state share exceeds 50 percent of the social capital. One of the companies approved to make checks in 2015 is that of Ion Prisacaru, head of the State Tax Inspectorate (STI) and other companies related to former employees of Finance Ministry. The National Anti-Corruption Center (CNA) conducted a survey on the corruptibility of the draft decision of the Government in March and warned about situations of conflicts of
Off-SHOR Airport via Russia (II)
To ensure incomes estimated at over one billion Euros to the company „Avia Invest”, managed by the current mayor of Orhei Ilan Shor, the main suspect in the case on the theft of billion from the financial-banking system of the Republic of Moldova, the Government does not want to annul an airport fee which the National Anticorruption Center (CNA) reported that it was perceived illegally. From the central rostrum of Parliament, the CNA director suggests that money stolen from BEM is laundered at the Airport, but the officials from the Center who investigate the case wait for answers from Russia.
Off-SHOR Airport via Russia
Chisinau International Airport (AIC) lease is one of the most controversial "businesses" concluded by the Government of the Republic of Moldova in recent years. Although 5 European companies with experience in airport activity were invited to participate in the contest, the competition commission chose an anonymous company, founded by an airport in Russia and a Russian factory of locomotives production, which ceded the "business" to an off-shore. Today, investments in Airport modernization are made mostly based on money from the activity of AIC transferred to the accounts of companies close to Ilan Shor. „Business” AIC - An opaque contest, won by
The confidential report of the Commission of Minister Cebotari and Airport leasing
President of the Commission on assessing the Chisinau International Airport leasing agreement, Minister of Justice Vladimir Cebotari admitted that "Avia Invest" has not fulfilled some of the provisions stipulated by the agreement, but he argues that there are no grounds for terminating the agreement. Termination was recommended by the National Anti-Corruption Center, after they had identified some irregularities about set investments and after certain revenues of the airport would have arrived at the football club of mayor in Orhei, Ilan Sor. Ex-Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet claims that the first part of the Report shows grounds for termination and the
Companies of Iurcu’s friends continue to win contracts with Moldtelecom
Companies affiliated to Vitalie Iurcu, currently Deputy Minister of Economy and ex-director of Moldtelecom, continue to be key procurement partners of the joint venture owned by the state, even after he left the company. Recently, just through one invoice, to the firm’s accounts established by Iurcu’s friends, were transferred 700,000 lei. Previously, we demonstrated how several companies belonging to friends or business partnersof VitalieIurcu, then director of Moldelecom, obtained multi-million contracts with this joint stock company owned by the state. The information is now confirmed by recent acts, which came into our possession, demonstrating that Moldtelecom continues to buy from
The stories from www.anticoruptie.md may be used in the limit of up to 1,000 characters. Web pages must indicate the source and link directly to the article. Print media, Radio and TV stations must indicate the source. Publishing full version of stories is allowed based on a prior agreement with the Center for Investigative Journalism. Articles published on www.anticoruptie.md are protected by the Law on copyright and related rights of Republic of Moldova.