Public money

Relatives’ rout at Moldatsa

Author: Victor Moșneag, Anatolie Eșanu
19/11/2015 22107

Employees of the State Enterprise "Moldatsa" have benefited from huge salaries, increments, bonuses for tasks included in their job responsibilities and zero interest rate loans estimated at thousands of dollars in the past two years. Many of them are relatives of state officials. All these in conditions when in 2014, the total revenue decreased by 68.7 million lei against 2013.

Veaceslav Frunze, head of the State Enterprise “Moldatsa” as of August 2014, was dismissed at the beginning of September 2015. Shortly, Iurie Chirinciuc, Minister of Transportation and Road Infrastructure (MTID), who has been managing this enterprise, ordered an audit report at  Moldatsa. We wrote about it in May 2015, that it is a group of many state officials, who raise salaries of thousands of lei per month. The audit was carried out between January 2014- August 2015 by the MTID staff and proved the rout registered at Moldatsa.

„Favourite” from Moldatsa was appointed judge

At the beginning of 2014, before Frunze was appointed, the institution was managed by Petru Erhan on interim basis. The audit found out that on May 14, 2015, Petru Erhan employed his daughter Corina Cecan (Erhan before marriage) for the seat of manager of the Directorate of External and Public Relations. The same information revealed a dubious practice. Thus, some persons were employed at Moldatsa, they got high salaries from the enterprise and they worked for MTID.

It is the case of Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan. He was employed on January 21, 2014 as manager of the Legal Direction at Moldatsa with a monthly salary amounted at 10 thousands lei and the coefficient of complexity 1.5. He got a monthly salary of 15 thousands lei. On the second day, on January 22, following an order, he was delegated to MTID, for the seat of interim head of the Direction of Air Transportation. In 2014, though he worked only one day at Moldatsa, the accounts of the enterprise reveal that Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan  raised salaries amounted at 543 thousands lei, and for some weeks in January 2015- a sum of 41 thousands lei. Though, he got a salary of 15 thousands lei per month, he got a sum of 70 thousands lei- additional money for work experience, 81 thousands lei –monthly compensations, 71 thousands lei- bonus for holiday, 99 thousand lei-one time allowance, 33 thousands lei - „payment of the average salary for business trip”, 40 thousands lei – annual leave in 2014 and 2015 (though he has worked only 3 weeks this year), 22 thousands lei - „financial assistance”. In January 2015, Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan renounced on these facilities to make justice and he was appointed judge at the Botanica-based Court in Chisinau.

On 1 April 2014, Midrigan was employed by Moldatsa  and he was delegated to  MTID. The institution employed a new head at the Legal Direction, Vitalie Novac, godson of the Minister of MTID in that period, Vasile Botnari. He was employed at Moltdatsa with a monthly salary estimated at 16 thousands lei. These actions of Petru Erhan, intermediary manager at Moldatsa in the period of appointments, brought a prejudice estimated at about 600 thousands lei to the institution, writes the audit report.  Aliona Sviderscaia and Natalia Tulun were employed and paid by Moldatsa but they were delegated to MTID. In 2014 and some months from 2015, they raised almost half a million of lei from Moldatsa’s accounts, though they worked at the MTID.

High salaries and one-time allowances for some employees

Salaries at Moldatsa are set by law and the stimulation of employees in 2014-2015 was set by 3 internal regulations. Thus, a coefficient of complexity of 1,5 was applied for the operative staff within the Directorate of Air Traffic Service. They get a salary and a half. The employees under the Technical Direction had a coefficient of 1,2  and the employees within the Service of Information- a coefficient of 1,1. The audit report wrote that they ignored these regulations and they applied the coefficient of complexity 1,5 for the managers, a fact that conditioned the groundless rise in their salaries. Thus, Petru Erhan, former interim manager at Moldatsa,  current deputy manager, received a salary supplement amounted at 147 thousands lei in 2014 and 2015, Eduard Ceabei another deputy manager raised 362 thousands lei, Mariana Tabuica (Vladimir Cebotari’s sister), financial director at Moldatsa, current Minister of Justice and deputy Minister of Transportation raised 373 thousand lei, Vitalie Novac, director of the Legal Direction, god son of the former Minister of Transportation Vasile Botnari- 255 thousands lei. Andrei Adam, director of the administrative direction, Natalia Adam’s husband wrote on a socialization net that he is working for  Vlad Plahotniuc’s night club Drive and he received  a salary supplement amounted at 178 thousands lei, Corina Cecan, director of the Direction of Foreign and Public Relations, Petru Erhan’s daughter- 158 thousands lei and  Silviu-Vitalie Midrigan-185 thousands lei.  Given these reasons, the audit report wrote that Moldatsa bore groundless expenditures for salaries amounted at 1,7 million lei  in 2014-2015.

Over the same period of time, 4 employees of Moldatsa  benefited from  salary increase by 20%  as „indemnity for discretion”: Mariana Tabuica – 75 thousands lei, Petru Erhan – 41 thousands lei, Eduard Ceabei – 71 thousands lei and Vitalie Novac- 42 thousands lei.  In all, the audit team established that the manager of Moldatsa set illegal monthly allowances amounted at 10 million lei in 2014. The employees got one time allowances (!) for tasks included in their job responsibilities: participation in different meetings, performing annual control or participation in annual meetings. Silviu-Vitalie Midrigan (99 thousands), Mariana Tabuica (63 thousands), Vitalie Novac (48 thousands) and Eduard Ceabei (36 thousands) raised the highest allowances.

39 employees got zero interest rate loans. 2 - with exclusive conditions

Under an internal regulation in 2009, the employees of the institution can benefit from loans from the Reserve Fund of Moldatsa. According to the data of accounting, on January 1 2014, employees of Moldatsa had debts to the enterprise amounted at 957 thousands lei. In the period of auditing (2014-2015), the leadership of the enterprise offered zero interest rate loans (!) amounted at 995 thousands lei. About 39 employees benefited from such loans in 2014-2015. If some of them received „credits” amounted at some thousands of lei, others – credits estimated at thousands of lei. Thus, Valentin Merioara benefited from a credit amounted at 233 thousands lei and on September 23, 2015 he had to repay a sum of 153 thousands lei. Vitalie Novac (Vasile Botnari’s godson) took a credit amounted at 150 thousands lei and in late September he had to repay 73 thousands lei to the enterprise. Mariana Tabuica contracted “credits” two times, in 2014 and 2015, amounted at 200 thousands lei and on September 23, 2015 she had to repay 148 thousands lei to the enterprise.

The loan agreements between Moldatsa and the employee stipulate that under dismissals, they must repay the total sum of the credit. Two exceptions: Mariana Tabuica and Vitalie Novac ,their agreements do not include such a provision.  The audit report established that given this reason, „ there is a high risk of credits’ non-repayment in set terms by these 2 persons.

Complicated auctions

The audit report analyzed some auctions organized by Moldatsa in 2014-2015 and identified many dubious situations. Thus, based on the contracting agreement dated May 21 2014, signed between Moldatsa and SRL „Test Construct”, founded and managed by Alexandru Pascari, who gained an auction and got 246 thousands lei for cleaning the façade of Moldatsa, the auditors found that the service of acquisitions within Moldatsa did not ensure the large participation of all economic units in procedures of acquisitions. The letter of participation in the auction was sent just to the 3 economic units who attended the auction.

Another auction, other problems. On May 7, Moldatsa organized an auction to purchase 3 cars. The auction was won by SRL „Continent” and was attended by „Alvim Auto” SRL, that proposed the lowest price- 1,09 million lei. SRL „Continent” proposed 1,14 million, by over 50 lei more than the competitors and it was designated the winner. The auditors point out that the representatives of the Commission of acquisitions did not detect any violations of the offer of „Alvim Auto” SRL with the tender book. Moreover, they established that the make of a car and the prices filed by the winner do not meet the conditions of the agreement signed by Moldatsa with the winner of the auction, and this increased the final acquisition price by 150 thousands lei. Respectively, a sum of 1.3 million lei was paid for 3 cars.  Moldatsa purchased 3 cars, a new Toyota Corolla at the price of 218 thousands lei, one Toyota Avensis- 360 thousands lei and a car Toyota Highlander with a sum of 720 thousands lei. Based on the tender book and the results of the auction, they had to purchase a car Toyota Venza.

Moldatsa paid millions of euros in advance to a company with off-shore founder

If the first 2 auctions were organized in the first half of 2014 during the mandate of Petru Erhan, the last one analyzed by the auditors, was carried out in November 2014 when Veaceslav Frunze was head. Moldatsa organized an auction for air supervision systems. The winner of the auction, that was attended by other 2 international companies, became a consortium made up from the company „Bass Systems” SRL from the Republic of Moldova and the Czech people from ERA AS, who signed an agreement amounted at 1,799 millions of euro.

The auditors said that according to the data from the accounting, by July 29, 2015 „Bass Systems” SRL delivered to Moldatsa technological equipment, softs and services amounted at 24,4 million lei and this is a sum of 1,27 million euros based on the exchange rate from December 2014. Also, according to the act of verification of mutual accounts, Moldatsa paid 3,33 million lei for the equipment, soft and for the services. A sum of 25 million lei was paid by transfer and a sum of  7,5 million- by assignment of receivables. In these conditions, the auditors established that on October 1 2015, „Bass Systems” SRL had a debt of 3,3 million lei to Moldatsa, that appeared as a result of the fact that the state enterprise paid in advance for the goods and services. The auditors said that this project was not completed yet, as there are activities to be performed. Given these reasons, they recommended to the administration Moldatsa to see if the agreement between the economic unit and the state enterprise was respected.  „Bass Systems” SRL is a company that has auctions of millions of lei, won under different state institutions. It was founded in 2008, and has currently as founder the off-shore company „Assentis Holdings Limited” from Cyprus (72%) and „SP-COM” SRL (28%) from the Republic of Moldova. The last one was founded and managed by couple Onisim and Aliona Popescu. Onisim Popescu manages the company „Bass Systems” SRL. Unofficially, they say that an influential businessman from the Republic of Moldova is behind this company.

The monthly average salary in 2014 at Moldatsa: 19 thousands lei

In conclusion, the audit reported that the level of expenditures rise at Moldatsa exceeded the level of incomes growth by 9,8%  and this represents a risk of incapacity to sustainable development of the enterprise. Also, the audit established that the total income obtained by the enterprises in 2014 diminished by 68,7 million lei (34%) against 2013. Also, the incomes from sales reduced by 67,83 million and the expenditures from the operating activity for 2014 increased by 10 million lei. In 2013, the enterprise reported a profit from the operational activity amounted at 43 million while in 2014 it reported a loss amounted at 35 million.

Following the analysis of the fund of salary payment for January 2013-September 2015, the audit underlined that the expenditures of Moldatsa for remunerating employees for the period under auditing, had a considerable output out of the total of expenditures:  in 2014, this fund was  estimated at 78,6 million, while in 2013  the fund of salary payment constituted 75,2 million. The average monthly salary per enterprise in 2014 was estimated at 19,1 thousands lei.  The average salary of the manager of Moldatsa in 2014 was estimated at 34 thousands lei. He was offered one time allowance for holidays amounted at 58 thousands lei.

The audit reported that in 2014 against 2013, the salary for some categories of specialists decreased: engineers, technicians, common workers, and there was registered a rise in the average salary for the administrative staff and for specialists in meteorology.

Persons with preferential incomes resigned

We called the secretary of the head of Moldatsa and she said that  Vitalie Novac, who was director of the legal service in the period of audit and Mariana Tabuica, financial director,  resigned one month ago. Also, we were told that Petru Erhan, deputy manager who employed his daughter and benefited from high salaries and allowances, is on sick leave and Eduard Ceabei, another deputy manager is on a working visit. After Mariana Tabuica resigned, Olga Tudor was designated head accountant of the enterprise. Asked if the former employees Novac and Tabuica repaid the loans taken from Moldatsa after they resigned, the accountant refused to tell details. „Why should I give you this information? I am not allowed, I can’t give you this information. This information is confidential. I do not know what newspaper you can write such an erroneous information, exactly what they write at present, information that is not true and I do not want that my words are misunderstood”.

We tried to discuss with Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan, whose name is part of the audit report as beneficiary of some allowances and bonuses of thousands of lei.  On Wednesday, he refused to discuss with us. Midrigan’s secretary, who is currently judge at Botanica-based court said initially that he was a professor at the Moldova State University. At University, we were told that Midrigan is not a professor at the Moldova State University, so we contacted again the secretary of the judge.  This time, we were asked to leave a phone number and the judge will call us. This has not happened, so we called again. Vitalie Midrigan’s secretary said that she had sent the phone number to the judge and he said her to tell us that he „does not call journalists”  and we should call the person responsible of press relations within the Botanica based court.

Minister: Report was sent to CNA and Prosecution

Contacted by us, Iurie Chirinciuc, minister of MTIS said that the audit report related to Moldatsa  was sent to the National Anti-corruption Center (CAN) and to the prosecution that will check the violations and will take appropriate measures. „They made well-thought agreement, they stipulated everything. We did our best, we sent the report to relevant bodies for further investigation”, said Chirinciuc, when he was asked about zero interest rate credits obtained by employees of the enterprise.

Minister said that the institution he is leading readied a re-organization plan of State Enterprise Moldatsa to boost and reduce staff. „We want to remove all irregularities related to the staff employment, we will issue an order and we will dismiss all of them. Some of them knew that they were employed with violations and they resigned”, said the official with reference to the resignation of Mariana Tabuica and Vitalie Novac. Currently, Vadim Gugea is interim manager of Moldatsa. Iurie Chirinciuc said that a new contest would be organized to designate a new manager.

The investigation was carried out within the Campaign "Journalists for Transparency in Public Funds Management", held by the Center for Investigative Journalism, with the support of the US Embassy in the Republic of Moldova.

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