Fortunes, Business Partners and Ghost Projects of Former Premier Chiril Gaburici

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Vineri, 02.02.2018 10:13   1855
The appointment of former premier Chiril Gaburici as the candidate for the post of economy minister has reinforced the public interest about this person.

This is translation from Romanian. The original story is HERE.

While many still remember that he quit from the post of prime minister amid a scandal related to his fake higher education diplomas, few would recall his decisions during his short role as the head of cabinet. 

On December 19, 2017, Democratic Party chairman Vladimir Plahotniuc announced that seven ministers on behalf of his party would leave their posts in the government and that new professionals with technocratic background would be hired instead. 

Prime Minister Pavel Filip, a close man to Mr. Plahotniuc, said the new appointments represented “a logic step that demonstrated the Government’s intention to be closer to its citizens.”

The renovated team will welcome persons who had been part of the Moldovan government in the past, including two prime ministers who signed the agreements that guaranteed the 14-billion-leu bailout for the three banks involved in a one-billion-dollar fraud in 2014. 

Why Gaburici?

Compared with ex-premier Iurie Leancă who has remained in public view as a lawmaker and deputy chairman of the Parliament, Chiril Gaburici has been less visible. Some know him as a reformer. 

Vladimir Plahotniuc told the state-run news agency Moldpres that Chiril Gaburici earned the post for being “the right person to work for the resolution of all major issues in Moldovan economy and infrastructure” and that he was captured by Mr. Gaburici’s “skills of managing such important sectors as economy and infrastructure.”

Mold-street.com has reviewed the activity of Chiril Gaburici during his premiership and the two and a half year after his resignation. Mr. Gaburici has not answered the phone or emails to have some questions settled ahead of publication of this story. 

Cynical decisions of Gaburici cabinet

Chiril Gaburici was appointed as the chief of cabinet in February 2015. Before that, he had run the telecommunication companies Azercell in Azerbaijan and Moldcell in Moldova. He joined the government exactly at the time when the currency crisis was at its peak and one US Dollar exchanged for 24 Moldovan Lei. Stabilization of the currency market was one of the priorities Mr. Gaburici’s team announced. 

Although Chiril Gaburici managed the cabinet of ministers for less than four months, he remained in the collective memory as a critique to the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the National Bank, and the National Financial Market Commission – he publicly demanded the heads of these institutions to resign over poor performance. A pack of controversial decisions which his government passed brought his a negative notoriety. 

For example, in early April 2015, the Gaburici Government amended the Customs Code, allowing the legalization of duty-free shops in the breakway Transnistrian region, which is outside of Moldova’s control. In May these shops received operation licenses in Chisinau and within three months more than one billion contraband cigarettes flooded the European Union market, mainly in the United Kingdom. The proposal by the way came from the then reintegration minister Victor Osipov, who is currently Moldova’s Ambassador to Austria. Half a year later he asked a repeal to this decision, under pressure from Brussels.

Another controversial decision of the Gaburici Government gave the international community a motive to halt its assistance for Moldova. 

This is how it happened. On April 8, 2015, then economy minister Stephane Bride proposed the government to amend the Law on Financial Institutions (Banks) by changing the content of Article 15 with the following sentence (translation): “None of shareholders in a bank may contribute any shares from his possession to the social capital of the bank.” In the old version, the agreement from the National Bank was necessary to carry out such operations.

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The government passed the amendment under its own responsibility and this decision blocked the plans of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to take over 50% of Victoriabank’s stocks.

EBRD Vice Chairman Philip Bennett described the move of the Chișinău Government as "a deliberate and cynic action." The amendment [which the Gaburici Government enforced] blocked the expected transaction and raised questions about the commitment of the Moldovan authorities to clean up the bank sector and improve the corporate governance of domestic banks, the EBRD official said.

The amendment was subsequently withdrawn but the EBRD missed the opportunity to get Victoriabank under its control. 

How much Gaburici earned as a premier

The new economy and infrastructure minister quit from the post of prime minister on June 12, 2015 after the investigative magazine Ziarului de Gardă published an investigation how Mr. Gaburici had failed the baccalaureate examinations at an unlicensed university where he had studied economics in absentia, without attending a single lecture. Prosecutors immediately filed a case based on the story but never clarified the issue – even until today. 

On announcing his resignation, Chiril Gaburici explained to the press that he decided to leave the post as a result of public pressure in connection with his diplomas and as a gesture to “let the country focus on truly important issues.” He denied any political motivation behind his decision. 

More than one month after his departure from the government, his declaration of revenues was made public. Mr. Gaburici earned some 183,200 lei in salary benefits. During his time in the government he sold a company called Halat Auto SRL for 4.66 million lei, with the buyer expected to pay off, in rates, by May 2018. He also admitted to be the owner of Green Property SRL, where his former senior advisor Steluta Andreev is the executive manager. 

Mr. Gaburici declared his ownership on three mansions totaling more than 550 square meters, four fields for construction, and two agricultural fields. His family also owned an apartment, non-residential space that covered 135 square meters. The former premier is also a fan of German cars – he declared an Audi-TT made in 2011 and worth 42,000 euros, a 2008 Volkswagen Multivan worth 20,000 euros, and a 2012 BMW motorcycle worth 8,000 euros.

Business partners 

During the past two years the Gaburici properties undergo some changes. In late 2016, the family sold a house in the capital to a business couple - Luc Engelen, Belgia’s honorary consul in Moldova, and Lilia Sinciuc-Engelen. The Engelen run a number of businesses in Moldova. 

The Gaburici are associated directly and indirectly with at least six companies.

Wife Irina Gaburici owns entirely a company called Crazy Kart SRL, which got its registration certificate three days after the resignation of her husband from the government. 

Chiril Gaburici is an associate in four firms: Legal 4 Business SRL, Mobil-Import SRL, Green Property SRL, and M-Docs SRL. In Legal 4 Business SRL he owns 45% of the stake and is his partner is the wife of former justice minister Oleg Efrim - Violeta Marian Efrim (45%) – and Olga Cebanu (10%) as a minority partner. This firm controls the legal news portal bizlaw.md.

In M-Docs SRL, Mr. Gaburici ownes 33% of the capital. His business partners are Gheorghe Nicolaescu (34%) and Liliana Iliescu, spouse of Iurie Ciocan (33%), former chairman of the Central Election Commission. Mr. Nicolaescu by the way is a close aide of oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, a RISE Moldova demonstrates.

In 2008-2009, Gheorghe Nicolaescu (39 years old) managed Local Media SRL, an advertising agency that had been traded between offshore firms and finally got into the shopping basket of the Dutch company OTIV Prime Media BV – a central piece of Mr. Plahotniuc’s empire that was managed by his god-son Andrian Candu, who is currently the chairman of the Moldovan Parliament, RISE disclosed. The 2014 financial report of the Moldovan Democratic Party (PDM) states that Local Media SRL earned more than 270,000 lei in advertising contracts from the PDM. In Romania, Nicolaescu is associated in Stretch Design SRL with Dorin Pavelescu, an intermediary for Mr. Plahotniuc. 

Mr. Nicolaescu is the solely owner of a communication company called KVK-Moldova SRL, which has been a distributor and partner of mobile phone operator Moldcell SA since 2012 – the year when Mr. Gaburici was still the CEO of Moldcell.

In Mobil-Import SRL, Chiril Gaburici is associated with Artur Verstiuc, as half proprietors. This firm controls LED-Media SRL, which owns a land field at the crossing of Constantin Stere Street and Alexei Mateevici Street in the capital. On this field, Sel&Co SRL of social-Democratic leader Victor Șelin had planned to build a trade center with an underground parking lot. It’s just a pitfall filled with the foundation and a fence surrounding the field there.

Green Property SRL, also owned by Chiril Gaburici, deals with agricultural businesses and wholesale of fertilizers. 

Non-existing project of ex-premier Gaburici

In September 2016, the Moldovan Academy of Sciences announced that a firm of Chiril Gaburici - Fly Ren Energy Company - was selected for a project that envisaged the construction of a Solar Park for clean energy research and training of energy specialists. The Solar Park was designed as an experimental field covered with photovoltaic batteries for the study of alternative energy sources in agricultural purposes. Mr. Gaburici, who already was in the post for half a year, confirmed the partnership but declined to reveal the costs or the source of investment.

In this project, the Institute of Genetics, Physiology, and Plant Protection – a subsidiary of the Academy of Sciences – was expected to let Ren Energy Company use a field of six hectares between the capital and its airport, for building the Solar Park. The project has not advanced an inch ever since. 

Larisa Andronic, deputy director of the Institute, says she cannot remember about such a project. Nor does Lidia Romanciuc, head of the Academy’s Center for International Projects.

Only Roman Chirică, director of the Agency for Innovation and Technology Transfer, says he “heard about a project of this kind, but thought it was designed for creation of an enterprise for manufacture of solar panels.” 

Chiril Gaburici never answered Mold-Street.com’s phone calls or emails on the topic. 

Fly Ren Energy Company was founded by Italian businessman Garuzzo Carlo Arturo. It is run administered by Irina Sîpunova; she also runs two firms where Mr. Gaburici is one of the associates.

Sources in the Academy of Sciences said the project had not started because of the shortage of funds and the investors behind it had hoped to use international lending programs in Moldova for the Solar Park and likewise.

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Acest articol a fost publicat cu susținerea fundației Național Endowment for Democracy în cadrul proiectului ”Promovarea responsabilității guvernării” și poate fi preluat pentru distribuire, publicare și citare fără careva limitări. Referința la sursă este obligatorie.   

This article has been published thanks to the support of the National Endowment for Democracy as part of the Promoting Government Accountability Project and may be shared, republished or quoted without limitations. Reference to the source is mandatory. 



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