Public money

Illegal transactions with real estate and public lands in Rezina damage the local budget

Secţia de producerea a betonului construita de firma ÎÎ Mariana Druţă. Foto: CIJM
Author: Tudor Iașcenco, Ion Perciun
01/09/2016 13671

Authorities in town Rezina have authorized illegal transactions with land or public non- residential areas and several buildings over the past years. These "businesses" harmed the local budget. Police and prosecutors have been informed repeatedly but they did not investigate the cases, some of them were closed on grounds that the officials have not admitted fraud of violations in their activity.

In the picture: Instead of a "temporary commercial kiosk", which had to be lifted on 39 m.p., Fariman Godjaev built a shopping center. Photo: Tudor Iaşcenco

Businesses to order

The Decision No. 5/84 dated May 25, 2012 rules that the  City Council Rezina allowed setting up immovable property with a surface of  39 square meters on bd. Sciusev to expose it to tender of land lease with a view to locate a temporary commercial kiosk. In December 2012,  under the Decision No. 7/52, this property  was assigned cadastral number and is exposed to tender  of land lease for a term of ten years. The tender was not organized, so that the decision was not executed. Seven months later, the Town Hall proposed to the Town Council to amend the Decision No.7 / 52 replacing the phrase "land lease"  by "sale-purchase",  destination of the  plot remained the same: "location of a temporary commercial kiosk".

This time, the tender takes place, and on October 22, 2013 mayor Mihail Cebotar signs the in-kind  agreement of land transmission to the winner of the tender, Fariman Godjaev. Subsequently, behavior of the mayors becomes more interesting. Early  in 2015,  Fariman Godjaev  gets urbanism certificate signed by Mayor M. Cebotar, town architect A. Furdui and City Council Secretary A. Cioric and  they approve the project documentation for the construction on 39 square meters of land  of a shopping center, which totally contradicts the General Urban Regulation, and design norms and rules.

And yet, the project developed based on the urbanism certificate is checked and authorized by the Town Hall, registered at the State Construction Inspectorate. The construction is built in a few months, being located out of the land purchased by F. Godjaev and on some public land, for green spaces. When the shopping center was commissioned, these illegalities came out. Leadership of the Ecological Inspectorate Rezina refused to sign the commissioning act of the center and cited a series of violations of legislation, including unlawful occupation of a portion of the town's public land.  The authorities try again to somehow legalize the illegalities committed previously. On April 27, 2016  Town Hall proposes to Town Council to   organize a tender of land lease, for a term of three years,  of 200 square meters of  adjacent land to 39 square meters sold by F. Godjaev, area that already occupied by building and outfitting of the shopping center, and to ensure access to it. This time, again the conditions imposed for the participants in the tender were shaped for a single beneficiary - F. Godjaev, who proved to be the only participant and winner of the tender.

Based on the request of a group of municipal councilors, Rezina Court intervened and forced the Town Council to stop any actions aimed to enforce  the decision Nb. 2/30 dated April 27, 2016, including the commissioning of the shopping center . Meanwhile, Orhei Territorial Office of the State Chancellery rules this decision as illegal and recommends its abrogation to the town Council.

During four years, Rezina authorities' actions towards this goal have been the subject of several reports of some councilors and residents of the town, of some controls involving law bodies and other state structures. Orhei Territorial Office of the State Chancellery established that most of the points in the last three decisions of the Town Council were illegal. Police Inspectorate in Rezina has filed a criminal case on these materials. The investigation established,  based on the evidence of F. Godjaev and of some specialists of the Town Hall that the plot on boulevard Sciusev for the construction of a commercial kiosk  (the town's urban plan does not  include this  construction- n.r.) was set for F. Godjaev; that "initially committee members have proposed him to take on lease the land requested, but he did not agree and insisted to sell his land and build a shopping center, for which he presented the design of the construction of the shop and paid thesums". Rezina Prosecution closed the case.

After F. Godjaev sued the head of the Ecological Inspectorate Rezina Ruslan Rosca, because he does not want to sign the commissioning of the shopping center, weekly newspaper CUVINTUL asked the Environment Ministry to  intervene in litigation and appreciate legally the actions of the head of the inspection. Minister Valeriu Munteanu readdressed the statement of the editorial office to  ... Ruslan Rosca (!?)

Ministry of Territorial Development and Construction and the State Inspectorate for Constructions were requested to their  views on  the legality of the actions of the authorities  in Rezina, and of the specialists who designed and supervised the construction of this shopping center  and  sent a formal response. Currently, this story is in the attention of the Police Inspectorate Rezina (on some actions forgery - n.r.) but also pending at Rezina Court.

Many people believe that in the end nothing unusual will happen. Like many other constructions built in Rezina with serious violations of the authorities, this one will be commissioned. "Those who authorized violations, did it on purpose as they had some interests.  As long as they are at power, they will do their best to solve the problem in their favor", says a reader, former town councilor, who knows very well the situation.

Square that arouses many interests

On the main street of Rezina, August 27, there is a land with address  No.15 which is situated near some 9-storey blocks of flats.  A businessman intended to build there an agricultural store by 2002. But when the land was already bought and the construction of the store was about to start, residents of adjacent blocks were against it, arguing that the issue was not consulted with them as required by law, there are plenty of shops nearby but there is not a place for rest and recreation for children and adults. Authorities and businessman admitted their mistake and found another variant of the store location.

New Urban Plan of the tons was drafted and approved a few years later and taking into account the wishes of the citizens, this land was  planned for arranging a square. But in late 2012, the new authorities of town Rezina proposed this land for tender of sale-purchase for the construction of  a store. The  tender was formal, as the town knew who was the interested man and the company. The residents protested, some city councilors were outraged by the actions of Town Hall. Several months later,  this project, a bit  amended reached the agenda of the Town Council and was adopted with the votes of the majority at power. The residents of the neighborhood  organized some protests. But the ruling majority  from the Town Council  ignored citizens’ opinions and  decided to bring the land up for sale.

The land that for years presents interest to officials from Rezina. Photo: CIJM

Three representatives of tenants challenge the decision of the Town Council at the administrative court and the judgment prohibits the Town Hall to operate actions with the land until a final court decision is issued. Town Council returned to the subject several times with different decisions, imposing some absolutely unreal and discriminatory conditions for other people to participate in the tender: eligible for the contest  are legal entities who present a draft of plot’s arrangement for children, has a statutory capital of no less than ten million lei and  has a bank deposit of  500,000 lei etc. Individuals can participate in the tender if they present a business plan showing funding sources of the construction and a bank guarantee of no less than ten million lei.

The tender   was held with one participant - SRL Braus-com. In fact, there were three contenders, but the other two were removed from competition on the grounds that they had not met all requirements submitted by the Town Hall.  These two, Alexandru Gudali  and Serghei Bagrin  felt discriminated and oppressed and filed  a complaint to the Competition Council (CC). Collaborators of the CC established that the authorities in Rezina violated several laws and proposed the Town Council to abrogate the decision of land sale-purchase tender and to cancel the reports of the tender commission on this land and the contract of land sale-purchase.

Meanwhile, the Territorial Financial Division Balti checked, at the request of the Police Inspectorate Rezina, the legality of these 6 decisions of the Town Council on this issue and reached the conclusion that there was not legal basis to develop the sale- purchase tender of the plot from str. 27 August 15 A, because the Decisions nb.2/39 dated July 11 2013 and  nb.1/13 dated January 31 2014, based on which the transaction happened, were illegal.

The Division requested the Town Council to elucidate drawbacks. The Council requested the mayor to start a labor investigation and inform the disciplinary commission near the Town Hall about the violations committed by persons involved in actions of  purchase- sale of plot  in public property from private property on  str. 27 August 15A – a classical method to hide illegalities. They know very well who signed the draft decisions, who voted them, who organized the tenders and signed the illegal reports. The Competition Council and the Territorial Financial Division Balti  showed the law articles that were violated. But the disciplinary commission has the last word. The majority of its members were involved in illegalities described above.

Shops in the middle of the street

Commercial shops are built right in the middle of the roadway on the boulevard Sciusev. One of the shops commercializes bakery products between the Center of Family Doctors and the Center for Public Health. The roots of this  „innovation”  date back September 2012, when at the request of the administration of the town, a special commission set the scheme to select 3 plots with a surface of 20 square meters each on the segment from the center of the boulevard. Based on this document, the Town Council  under the Decision nb. 7/41 dated 04 December 2012, enabled setting up 3 real estate public properties for „exposure to public tender for arranging some mobile kiosks”. Tenders were won by SRL Mobile Tehnologii, citizens Ion Covrig and Victor Rusu.

The preamble of the Decision 7/41 dated 04.12 in 2012 writes that “cadastral plans and a series of laws of the Republic of Moldova served as technical substantiation". Examining the laws mentioned in the decision, you convince that, on the contrary, they prohibit such actions, or destination of the road is for traffic and not to conduct retail. For example, Law 354-XV from 20.10.2004, art. 7 provides that while establishing immovable property, the condition must be respected that "newly established properties mist meet the initial destination, respect the security norms against fire, sanitary, ecological and urban norms..." Law 835-XIII dated  17.05.1996 on  principles of urbanism and territory arrangement oblige local public authorities to put into practice the use of land in accordance with urban planning documentation, ie local urban planning regulations, which, in turn, points out that Şciusev boulevard is designed for the movement of vehicles. The authors of the decision have not considered any stipulation of the  Law no. 91 of 05.04.2007, art. 5 (1) that establishes that "the lands occupied by squares, streets, passages, plots used for communication" relate to the public field of the town.

Thus, the three plots on Boulevard Sciusev cannot be used for other purposes, especially for installation of commercial kiosks. Or, this activity involves a continuous flow of people on the road with very intensive road traffic. CUVINTUL warned the public about these "innovations» on 7 February 2014 concluding: "We would be curious to know the   view of the State Inspection in Construction and Patrolling Inspectorate . As for town authorities, they have the possibility to correct mistakes (if they were mistakes), by abrogating their decisions. " It did not happen. Moreover, some kiosks have a surface of 25 square meters, though the decisions showed 20 square meters, which implies prejudice to the town budget.

Public bath converted in division of concrete and mortar  production

Resident of the town Rezina Leonid Hanchevici,  doctor by profession came to the editorial office with a problem: " the building of bath and laundry in construction is placed opposite our house. A few years ago, it was sold and the new owner (as they spoke) intended to arrange here a storehouse of fruits and vegetables. But the owner has changed later and now they are building a division of concrete and mortar production.  And that just at 15-20 meter distance from houses! If such a thing possible? Who could authorize such a construction near housing? " wonders the author of the letter, co-signed by 11 other people who live  near the construction.

The problem approached by L. Hanchevici is part of the controversial “operas” of Rezina authorities. The unfinished construction „Bath and  laundry complex" for 100 seats, placed in town Rezina, str. 1 Mai 4/1 was sold at the price of 212.000  lei by the Public Property Agency in a tender organized on March 20, 2012. Later, the new owner, couple Larisa and Evgheni Gradinari (she – specialist in the administration of the head of district, he- chief-architect of the town) addressed to the Rezina authorities with the request to be allowed to buy the land afferent to the real estate. The Town Council accepts the request, and sold to couple Gradinari, 0,72 hectares, surface that covered the pavement on str. Energeticieni and 1 Mai, afferent to the unfinished complex instead of  the surface of 0,54 hectares of land  under the cadastral plan of the construction. The local press commented the case, people expected measures. Nothing has happened.  Even after, at the request of newspaper CUVÂNTUL, Tudor Golub,  the then head of the Territorial Office Orhei of the State Chancellery admitted that the : „Decision nb.4/15 dated 23.05.2012 of the Town Council Rezina „On the sale-purchase of the land of public property of  ATU town Rezina on str. 1 Mai 4/1, afferent to the private property of citizen Grădinari Larisa” was adopted with many violations of the current legislation. The land afferent to the unfinished construction of 0.54 hectares sold to new owners was enlarged on the side of the public space (pavement)  on adjacent streets to str. Energeticieni and 1 Mai with 0.1768 hectares. The plot was sold at the price of 83.706,5 lei, while its real price is 357.767,8 lei, thus the budget of the town was harmed with a sum of 254062,8 lei. Moreover, Evgheni Gradinari, co-owner of the unfinished construction and buyer of the land and representative of the Town Hall as town’s chief architect readied the documents and the decision of this real estate alienation.”

Local journalists collected evidence and went to law bodies and requested the Police, Prosecution and to the National Integrity Commission to tell their view over this „business”. All these structures did not find any violations in the actions of Rezina authorities. After restricting the territory and some construction works, in October 2014, couple Gradinari sold the construction to Maria Stefan Dulgher, medical assistant in kindergarten in village Tvardita, district Taraclia. Seven months later, the construction is owned by Individual Enterprise Mariana Druta in village Tahnauti, district Rezina.

The new owner addresses to Town Hall Rezina to get a urbanism certificate for changing the unfinished construction in car service station and commercial areas. On May 12, 2016  Town Hall issued the document. The document writes: "This certificate does not allow the execution of construction, which will become possible only after the release of construction permit, based on project documentation". Asked to comment on the complaint of the residents living near the construction, Mariana Druta said that  her actions as owner were legal and were approved by the State Construction Inspection; the concrete and mortar division is designed to meet her needs.

Furthermore, the request at the editorial office CUVINTUL, Leonid Hanchevici sent the collective petition to the president of the district Eleonora Graur, prosecutor of district Andrei Rosca, to the mayor of town Rezina Simion Tatarov. L. Hanchevici received answers from the heads of Rezina SA subsidiary RED-Nord, Rezina Police Inspectorate and the State Ecological Inspectorate, who informed him that  this issue relates to the competence of local authorities and that "violations of law have not been detected."

Asked by the editorial office to comment on the complaint of  L. Hanchevici and  of his neighbors, mayor Simion Tatarov said: "The building on str. 1 Mai  is not listed as  bathroom, but as an unfinished construction subjected to reconstruction in car service station and commercial space. Individual Enterprise Mariana Druta, owner of the construction did not requested and did not get authorization for construction of the division of concrete production.  If the information in the petition is true, the Town Hall will notify the competent authorities ".

In the recordings on identifying real estate purchased by couple Gradinari, issued by Rezina Cadastral Office on 30 March 2012, the construction is registered as unfinished building (bathrooms and recreation complex).  In other documents of sale-purchase and ownership, the construction is registered as “unfinished building". We tried to find from Town Hall Rezina who and when changed the destination of the construction, which is exclusively the prerogative of the Town Council. Lilia Raileanu, secretary of Rezina City Council said that she did not have any document in the Town Hall that would attest such changes.  

Meanwhile, the works of assembling the concrete and mortar division on   the territory purchased by Individual Enterprise Mariana Druta  are in full swing (see picture). In Rezina, they say that behind these illegalities, are interests of some officials who act through intermediaries and they are not officially listed as beneficiaries. Otherwise, why the ruling majority in the City Council would promote so insistently some illegal decisions and authorities in charge to stop illegalities do nothing, say residents who express their view on these rumors.

This investigation is accomplished under the Project „Shining a Light on Corruption in Moldova” carried by the Center for investigative Journalism and Freedom House with the financial support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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