Moldovagaz: Luxury houses and agreements signed between family members

Author: Victor Moșneag
03/12/2015 31579

Agreements of collaboration have been signed in the last three years between enterprises founded by Moldovagaz and companies affiliated to the family of the head of the Administration Council of the enterprise, Alexandru Gusev.  Based on these agreements, private and “independent” economic units perform the metering certification of natural gas distributed to consumers and they control the quality of natural gas on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. Also, currently all gas distribution companies managed by Moldovagaz have certificates of conformity to natural gas quality issued by a company managed by family members of Gusev.

The Law № 235 "On the activity of accreditation and conformity assessment" came into force on 7 December 2012. To meet legal requirements, Moldovagaz announced in a press release in that period that it took a number of organizational and practical measures for moving to the new conformity assessment system for natural gas supplied to clients in the Republic of Moldova. Thus, since then, natural gas distribution companies contracted for the services of natural gas conformity assessment, the laboratory of tests “Veritrans Plus" and the Authority for Certifications of products, services and management systems "Trans-Standard", accredited in the field of natural gas conformity assessment. A year earlier, on May 27, 2011 the awarding ceremony of the Certificate of Accreditation for certification of management systems to the company "Trans-Standard" was held at the exhibiting center Moldexpo.  An advertising text announced that it "is the first and only company in our country internationally accredited in this area. For the Republic of Moldova, this is a historic event in the field of conformity assessment. Since now on, Moldova has its company that has obtained the right to provide certification services in management systems both to Moldovan economic units and to foreign ones", runs the company’s advertising text.

Collaboration within the family, made public on the website 

On the web-site of Moldovagaz, the collaboration with these two companies "Veritrans Plus" and "Trans-Standard" is official and is marked by ceremonies and demonstrations for media representatives. "Currently, all natural gas distribution companies from Moldovagaz complex  own certificates of conformity of natural gas quality, issued by the Authority for Certifications of products, services and management systems "Trans-Standard", reported Moldovagaz in December, 2012 in a press release. Other press releases announced that after controls performed by the "independent" company SRL "Trans-Standart" and "independent testing laboratory " Veritrans Plus”, the natural gas distributed to consumers in municipality Chisinau meet all quality requirements.

To convince myself of collaboration between enterprises and companies founded by Moldovagaz "Trans-Standard" and " Veritrans Plus", I called the lab for gas meters control located on Street. Vadul lui Voda, 68 that belongs to the company "Veritrans Plus". I introduced myself as a person who has problems with the gas meter and I asked if they are certified by this laboratory. The man said yes and underlined that this collaboration is with Chisinau-Gaz, the institution responsible for this filed in municipality Chisinau.

In turn, employees of Applied Metrology and Certification Center, a state institution in the field, confirms that it does not cooperate with Moldovagaz anymore. “We do not collaborate with it (Moldovagaz) anymore. I cannot tell you the exact period. Earlier, we used to, we checked the meters.. Now they are private companies. Do not ask me, ask the ministry if it's good or not for private companies to do so. Yes, the Economy Ministry has accredited private companies", said Calin Ruslan, Head of direction, metering tools within the Center for Applied Metrology and Certification.

Founders from Belize and Panama

Vasile Zetia, father-in-law of Alexander Gusev Photo:

SRL "Veritrans Plus" is a foreign-owned enterprise, founded in 2007. Now, according to the State Registration Chamber, the only founder is an offshore company in Belize, Technology Factory LTD which contributed with a sum of 206 thousands lei, the social capital of the company. The company is managed by Grigore Ambrosi and Vasile Zetia is president of the Administration Council. Another member of the Council  is Victoria Zetia, Vasile’s wife. In 2012, when the company began working with Moldovagaz, it had sales revenue of 34 million lei, the main kind of activity is "technical testing and analysis". The company is registered on str. Petru Movila in a flat of family Zetia.

SRL "Trans Standard" is a foreign-owned enterprise, with the official name " Authority for Certifications of products, services and management systems ", founded in 2006. The registration certificate, however, dates from September 2012. The only founder is an off-shore, this time in Panama, "Atentis Trade Corp", which contributed with a sum of 5,400 lei. This company is registered in the apartment on Street. Petru Movila, that belongs to couple Zetia. In 2012, the company had sales revenue of over 6 million lei. Several media sources present Vasile Zetia as a director of both companies.

Former employee: „The Company just sealed documents”

Alexandru and Alla Gusev Foto:

Vasile Zetia is 59. He is Ala Zetia’s father, who after marriage in 2004 to Alexandru Gusev, the current chairman of Moldovagaz, she became Alla Guseva. Accordingly, Vasile Zetia representative of the companies "Trans-Standard" and "Veritrans Plus" is the father- in- law of the head of Moldovagaz. Alexandru Gusev is not in the Republic of Moldova. I asked the press service of the institution how these 2 companies became partners of Moldovagaz and whether this was possible based on family relationship between Gusev and Zetia. Although I mentioned in the message sent to Doina Deleu, responsible for public relations at Moldovagaz, that we expect an answer to our questions until 17.00, I did not get anything. I could not discuss with Vasile Zetia. I left my contact details in the waiting room and the businessmen had to call me. Though I informed the secretary about the topic of the discussion, Vasile Zetia did not call.

A former employee of the company „Veritrans Plus”, the one who revealed the information about family relations from Moldovagaz says that „ the relations between Gusev and Zetia are known within the company and at Moldovagaz. „Initially, these companies provided services of certification and testing of gaming machines. Then, they started activity at Moldovagaz. In a direct relationship with Mr. Gusev, as father in law, it was easy to reach an understanding. We organized urgently some trainings for the staff to work as state inspectors. Actually, Moldovagaz performs most of works of testing. The company only sealed and signed the documents”, said the former employee of  Zetia’s company. He could not say if the company of the father in law of the head from Gazprom certified gas meters or controlled its quality; the information about gas meters quality might not be true.

Prosecutor: „We are eager to investigate over these circumstances”

Vitalie Busuioc, prosecutor Foto:

Alexandru Gusev has been president of the Administration Council of Moldovagaz since 2008. On Thursday, November 26 2015, prosecutors within the General Prosecutor’s Office (PG) and officers of the National Inspectorate for Investigations (INI) went to the offices of Moldovagaz and Chisinau- Gaz and to the houses of the directors of these enterprises, Alexandru Gusev and Constantin Cuiumju. Also, prosecutors performed searches in the office of an economic unit and on the addresses of some important individuals in the case. Vitalie Busuioc, prosecutor within the service of investigating the penal case in central structures of the Ministry of the Interior and of the Customs Service declared for press, within a briefing in the office from Moldovagaz that the searches were performed under 2 criminal cases started based on 3 articles from the Criminal Code: 328 – Excess of power or abuse of office, 241 – Illegal practicing of the activity of entrepreneur and 243 – Money laundering. Contacted by us, the prosecutor said that the cases he manages did not cover information about the agreements between Moldovagaz, managed by Alexandru Gusev and the companies managed by Vasile Zetia, his father-in-law.. „As you told us, this information is not known by the criminal investigation body. If you have it, please give it to us, and we are eager to investigate over these circumstances”, promises the state accuser.

Constantin and Olga Cuiumju Foto:

Criminal cases handled by PG relate other aspects of the activity of Moldovagaz, some of them are based on information from 2010 and which were known then. "Economic units, together and based on understanding with decision makers from enterprises Moldovagaz, Chisinau-Gaz and other enterprises founded by Moldovagaz have developed and implemented a criminal scheme used to get high sums of money. The enterprises founded by Moldovagaz commercialized illegally natural gas to some economic units. The gas was not covered in the accounting. Finally, these economies units delivered this gas to some enterprises or individuals. Also, to hide the traces of this crime, there are suspicions that decision makers of enterprises, relying on the provisions of a methodology of calculation of technological losses in gas distribution networks, passed the natural gas delivered to these companies to losses. There are suspicions that these losses are reflected in bills on gas and were paid by consumers", said Vitalie Busuioc, prosecutor who manages these two cases.

A control of ANRE performed in 2010

Another aspect investigated by him relates to auctions organized by Moldovagaz. "We check the way of signing transactions for different items and gas delivery mechanisms. That is, in the Republic of Moldova and abroad, various economic units place information on the tools and mechanisms for sale. Though the offer of price is determined by a certain amount, the decision- makers of enterprises bought these mechanisms for natural gas distribution such as meters, at prices sometimes three times higher than those which were initially proposed on the market by economic units. This makes us believe and control whether the profits registered by these economic units were shared with decision makers of relevant enterprises", said the prosecutor. Another interesting element found by law enforcement bodies shows that Moldovagaz, which pays the gas into US dollar (USD)  purchased the currency at a price higher than the market price recorded by banks in the Republic of Moldova. "There are suspicions that the profit was shared", says Busuioc. Criminal cases now handled by the prosecution were initiated as a result of the control performed by the National Energy Regulatory Agency (ANRE) in 2010.

At our request, on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, the prosecutor Vitalie Busuioc told us that, at the time, yet no one has the status in the two cases. He avoided giving us further information so as not to prejudice the investigation. From other sources I found that the economic unit investigated in the case is "Belvilcom" SRL, a company which was investigated by ANRE in 2010. Then, the institution headed at that time by Victor Parlicov said that in 2004-2008, more than 5 million cubic meters of gas were delivered outside the authorized territory, almost 80% of the total volume of gas purchased by the company. ANRE’s control was initiated as a result of information received from the Intelligence and Security Service. The results were submitted to the General Prosecutor’s Office that initially ordered the dismissal of the criminal case, and later on, the management of the company paid a fine estimated at 6000 lei.

The company investigated by the prosecutor, under insolvency

Currently, the company „Belvilcom” SRL, founded by Vladislav Chirica in 1997, is in process of insolvency. Coincidence or not, a request to this effect was filed in September, and it was accepted on November 12. Oleg Iovu insolvency process manager said that the request came as a result of the default of the company. He confirmed that last week, prosecutors have been at the SRL's headquarters where they found several acts.

In 2011, Metropolitan bishop Vladimir decorated Cuiumju "for contribution
to renovation of several places of worship" Photo:

Tudor Soitu, current deputy chairman at the Court of Accounts, performed in 2010 the control of this economic unit. He has worked at ANRE. He said that in that period he was proposed money for covering violations. „I do not know why the case was not investigated so far. Last summer, I was invited by a prosecutor from Anticorruption. I was curious to go. When I heard the questions, I started to laugh. I asked them.  Are you playing the game of prosecution? They said that they underwent reforms and they started to work. I did not study law, but to my knowledge, the term of prescription expired. I do not know what they want to do. Yet, they proposed me money to hide some violations. They did not say what sum”, said Tudor Soitu. With reference to this case, lawyers warn that, if a person has already been punished one time, he cannot be punished repeatedly for the same offense.

"I do not think I'm the person concerned to tell you why the case started now. If I'm not mistaken, in spring 2015, a criminal case started in 2014, was withdrawn from the National Anti-Corruption Center. Then in 2015, the General Prosecutor’s Office started a criminal case. I received the 2015 criminal case, initiated in 2014 and we started working. I cannot answer you exactly why now. When I received the materials, I started to work and I got to this stage", said prosecutor Vitalie Busuioc. "I cannot tell you who the economic unit in the case is. There are many of them, but so far nobody has status. Yet, we found acts from the period indicated by you, these are public reports of ANRE. Generally speaking, a person can be punished if the act for which he was punished for the first time was not analyzed properly", said the state prosecutor.

Millionaires living on parents’ relations

Gusev family home, registered on the name of the retired parents Photo: Victor mosneaga

Alexandru Gusev is 43. He lives in a luxury house on the outskirts of Chisinau, str. Ghidighici. As a style, it differs from buildings in the area and in Chisinau. It is always guarded by two men in uniform. The building is worth, say real estate experts, more than 7 million lei at market price. The house, with an official area of ​​188 sqm, home of  Alexandru Gusev is registered on the name of  his parents, Vladimir and Agafia, both of them retired. Prosecutors performed searches in this house on Thursday, November 26, 2015. "We conducted searches at several addresses. We go there where we have official data that the person lives there", said prosecutor Vitalie Busuioc.  The building came into possession of parents of the head of Moldovagaz in 2012. The two of them own since September 2015, a 140 sqm apartment on  str. Miron Costin which they bought from their son, Alexandru based on a sale/purchase agreement. Alexandru Gusev’s father is the owner of an apartment of 40 sq.m. on str. Trandafirilor and his mother - of a flat of 47 square meters on  bd. Moscow in the Capital. Couple Vladimir and  Agafia previously owned a part of an apartment on str. Columna where there is the headquarter of a subsidiary of Banca de Economii. A report of the Court of Auditors published information that the building was leased to Banca de Economii at a higher price than the market price. Later on, the building was sold to another famous mother, Sofia Triboi, mother of the Deputy Minister of Economy Valeriu Triboi. She is supposed that she owns luxury property in Chisinau including the house of the deputy minister. Ministry of Economy is responsible for the activity of the Moldovagaz and of the sector where the enterprise activates.

See here a case that has featured Agafia Gusev and Sofia Triboi, related to the building on Columna street, where a subsidiary of Banca de Economii is placed.

Cuiumju family home, registered on parents of the head
from ChisinauGaz Photo: Victor Mosneaga

Constantin Cuiumju, director of Chisinau-Gaz, featured in the searches of prosecutors, has a luxury property. Except 2 apartments in the center of Chisinau, on str. Eminescu, purchased in 2006 and 2008, Cuiumju, aged 43 owns together with his wife Olga a house with a total surface of 400 square meters in the forest near village Sociteni, Ialoveni.

His house is placed in the vicinity of the house of Metropolitan bishop Vladimir. The building was constructed based on court decisions, after initially the relevant bodies stated violations in the construction process. In 2011, the metropolitan bishop decorated his neighbor from the forest „for contribution to the renovation and construction of many places of worship”. Constantin Cuiumju owns a luxury apartment in Chisinau on str. Timis. It is registered on the name of his parents, Iurie and Svetlana. The access to the building is limited.

ChisinauGaz car, leaving the house of the head of the company
Foto: Victor Mosneag

On Wednesday, at about 10 o'clock, a car of Chisinau Gaz was parked in front of his house. It was registered on the name of his retired parents in October 2012.  Officially, Cuiumju’s parents live in Dubasari. Mother of head from Moldova-Gaz owns a company dealing with various forms of commerce. We tried to talk with Constantin Cuiumju, but as in the case of Gusev and Zetia, he didn’t call.  We will present a view over these persons in our future investigations.  

The investigation was carried out within the Campaign "Journalists for  Integrity in Public Service" carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism, with the support of Good Governance Program of  the Soros Foundation Moldova.  The donor does not influence the topic or content of the published investigations.

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