Public procurement

The Companies of Oleg Sârbu, Member of Parliament – Favourite Suppliers to State Institutions

Foto: Constantin Grigorița
Author: Viorica Zaharia
27/01/2016 10207

Two out of the nine companies owned by the Democrat MP Oleg Sârbu are constant suppliers of food and fuel to three psycho-neurological boarding houses from the northern part of the country, all of which are under the subordination of the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family. Throughout the period 2013-2015, Valentina Buliga, party colleague of Oleg Sârbu, was at the head of this ministry. The former minister says she has not influenced anyhow the tenders. The fact is that the respective companies, alongside with a third one, specialized in fuel sale, supplied to State institutions goods and services worth millions of lei. The grounds and the buildings of one of the companies were in pledge for loans of millions of lei.

Auctions with just one participant

"Gloria Qvarc" LLC, with a social capital estimated at over half a million lei, whose single founder is Oleg Sârbu, is specialized in the retail of fuel. During the period 2013-2015, the company won a total of 17 auctions for fuel supply, organized by several medical institutions of the district of Edineț and by the Zootechny and Veterinary Medicine College of Brătuşeni, same district. Most of these contracts exceed the amount of 100 thousand lei, and the costliest of them, worth 2 million 300 thousand lei, signed on 28th of March 2014, is also the first contract concluded by the company with the administration of the College. After this first procurement, the company of Oleg Sârbu won all the tenders for fuel supply to the above-mentioned educational institution, except one tender (20th of March 2015) in which "Rompetrol" was the winning bidder. In 6 out of the 7 auctions won at the College, "Gloria Qvarc" was the only participant. Before the year 2013, the Company "Tirex Petrol" was the fuel supplier to the College.

The deputy director of the Public Procurement Agency, Valeriu Secaș, says there is no problem if just one bidder takes part in a tender, because, as far as the procurements of goods are concerned, the law does not prohibit it. According to him, the participation of at least three companies is mandatory in tenders for the purchase of services.

The College in Brătușeni. Photo: sfm.md

Ghenadie Frecăuțanu, deputy director of the College of Brătușeni, explains that ”Gloria Qvarc” is the only participant in the auctions given that its administration accepts late payments. ”We cannot pay immediately for the fuel, we usually do it no sooner than after finishing the farming works and selling our products in autumn. This is exactly the reason for which other companies do not wish to participate. Many times, we had repeated tenders just because one single company submitted its bid”, says Ghenadie Frecăuțanu who, alongside with other representatives of the College administration, was a member of the tender board.

A food supplier to the psycho-neurological boarding houses

The companies ”Vlados-Com” and ”Maximos Pan”, both of them having Oleg Sârbu as the exclusive founder, are constant winners of the tenders for food procurement for the State institutions of the northern districts of the country. Oleg Sârbu’s wife works for “Vlados-Com”. In his statement of assets, the legislator reported a salary of only 16 thousand lei earned by his wife at “Vlados-Com”, that is a little more than one thousand lei per month. To be noted that this company has sales revenues estimated at millions of lei.

Over the past years, the two companies are constant suppliers for three psycho-neurological boarding houses – the ones from Brânzeni, district of Edineț, from Bădiceni, district of Soroca and from Bălți. The three institutions are subordinated to the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family which, after the political division of the ministerial portfolios, is controlled by the Democratic Party. We have contacted the managers of the boarding houses to find out whether the ministry had "recommended" any company. After our inquiries about the tenders and the two companies, Lilia Melnic, the director of the boarding house of Bălți, told us: "Talk to the people at the Ministry". “Why? Has the Ministry organised the tenders in your institution?” we asked. “I told you, call the Ministry first and then talk to me”, she said and hung up.

Ruxanda Glavan has centralised the public procurements. Why?

At the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, we were said that tenders are organised and winners are selected by the administration of the institutions. On the other hand, in June and July 2015, according to a decision of the Democrat minister, Ruxanda Glavan, the auctions were organised by the ministry. Why? We did not get any answer to this question, instead, Ruxanda Glavan’s adviser sent to us an informative note specifying that the above-mentioned actions were based on a Government Decree issued in 2009 which provided for ”the centralisation of the public procurements made by the administrative authorities under and subordinated to …”. According to that information, the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family conducted a centralised public tender for the purchase of dairies for the psycho-neurological boarding houses, retirement homes and boarding houses, saving as a result public money estimated at 600 thousand lei.

Another director, under whose office the procurements were done - Aliona Pistriuga from the psycho-neurological boarding house of Brânzeni, district of Edineț, told us that she personally was never a member of any group in charge of selecting the suppliers. ”I refused it, because I did not want to be involved in such matters”, the former director said, adding that such a fact allowed her to “reprove without any problem the companies which did not bring products of good quality”. ”I did not receive from the Ministry any directive in this sense. On the contrary, we were said to be careful with regard to food, to accept only fresh and high quality products”, said Aliona Pistriuga who several months ago quitted her position at the boarding house. She also confirmed that, in summer of the year 2015, the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family conducted a centralised tender for the purchase of dairies.

The director of the psycho-neurological boarding house of Bădiceni, Ion Gulica, stated that, while making the selection of the bidders, the working group to which he belongs applies the principle of “the one who requests the lowest price”. ”Everything we do is transparent, we open the envelopes with the bids in front of the board, in accordance with the law, and we have to select the business entity which proposes the lowest price. We did not have any instructions from the ministry”, Ion Gulica stated.

According to the former minister of Labour, Social Protection and Family, Valentina Buliga, the procurements were left to the institutions, because the practice of centralised tenders applied during the first part of her office was complex and inefficient. ”I do not have any idea about who were the winners and I have never given any instruction to the heads of the boarding houses in favour of anyone”, Valentina Buliga said.

The companies of Oleg Sârbu which are operating in Edineț have also won, over the past 3-4 years, hundreds of tenders for the supply of food products to local authorities of the villages in the northern districts - Edineț, Briceni, Râșcani, Dondușeni, etc.

We have attempted several days in a row to phone the deputy Oleg Sârbu and we have informed him via messages about the reason for looking for him. No answer. On the other hand, he had formerly declared that his mandate of Member of Parliament did not help him win any tender, “because there were public tenders which were legal”. ”In the present situation, when the State institutions are not financed, have serious financial problems, such contracts with the State are not so advantageous, in fact. Besides it, I did not start my business when I came to the Parliament, I had it before”, Oleg Sârbu declared for anticoruptie.md nearly one year ago.

The assets of Sârbu’s companies pledged for loans of millions of lei to the Moldovan banks

According to the data of the State Registration Chamber, Oleg Sârbu requested the registration of the company ”Vlados-Com” in 2005 and the company is specialized in the retail sale of food, beverages and tobacco products. The latest available public data about the income of this company are for the year 2012, when "Vlados Com" had sales revenues of over 44 million lei.

The second limited liability company owned by Oleg Sârbu - “Maximos-Pan”, was established in 2006 and it is based in the town of Edineț. The capital stock of this company amounts to no more than 5400 lei, while its revenue coming just from the public tenders is worth millions of lei. Moreover, the company’s assets are pledged for loans of millions of lei and dollars. According to the data of the State Enterprise “Cadastru”, at the address in Edineț of the company “Maximos-Pan” are registered a plot of land, a building for production, a storehouse and two auxiliary buildings. Previously, all of them belonged to the Enterprise for Repair and Maintenance “Agroservice” JSC. In 2012, "Maximos-Pan" had sales revenues of 15 million 556 thousand lei. The grounds and the buildings registered at this address belong to another company owned by Oleg Sârbu - "Gloria Qvarc" which, in 2007, pledged them to the Savings Bank for a loan of more than 3 million lei.

Currently, the grounds and the buildings on them are pledged to Moldinconbank as a collateral for the reimbursement of 13 million lei and of one million dollars. The cadastral documents do not specify for what purpose were contracted the huge loans for which the bank accepted the securities, even if there is a special section for it. We could not request such an information to the deputy, as he did not answer our telephone calls.

Oleg Sârbu has generous revenues from his companies, nevertheless, he is not among the official donors of the Democratic Party in election campaigns. Neither his name, nor the names of his companies appear in the financial reports submitted by the Democratic Party to the Central Electoral Commission.

Oleg Sârbu became a Member of the Parliament in January 2010. Before, according to his CV posted on the Democratic Party’s website, he was the manager of his own companies “Gloria-Qvarc” and “Maximos Pan”.

The investigation has been done in the framework of the Campaign „Public Money Is My Money Too”, conducted by the Centre for Journalistic Investigations (CJI) and the Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance (AGER), within a project funded by the European Union and the National Endowment for Democracy.

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