At least 23 people are suspected of rigging public auctions, and 16 of them were detained for 72 hours and escorted to the National Anticorruption Center (NAC) for hearing in the case of procurement of altered food for schools and kindergartens from the capital city.

The statements were made on Thursday, November 24th, by the head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office Viorel Morari, during a press conference.

According to the head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, the criminal case was initiated in early March on rigging the public tenders, and during the criminal investigations there were initiated more than 30 criminal cases for abuse of power, active corruption, passive corruption and malfeasance in office.

Viorel Morari said: “The public figures from the Education Youth and Sports Directorate from Chisinau, were favoring some commercial agents in the public auction so that they could win, in exchange for certain amount of money. At the same time, the passive corruption is expressed by the fact that employees involved in the procedure of procurement of the food for preschool institutions and schools, were also receiving money for taking certain decisions. With regard to this case, several investigation measures have been carried out since March of this year, involving several undercover employees. We will soon release the intercepted phone calls, that will prove the guilt of the suspects.”

The head of the General Investigation Directorate Bogdan Zumbreanu, specified that 46 searches were carried out today. Zumbreanu stated that “The managers and employees of the businesses that have supplied food were searched. Also, searches were carried out at the offices and residences of the education departments officials from all five sectors of Chisinau.  During the search, a person tried to destroy some files, that were to be taken as evidence, but their attempt was interrupted. A total of 23 people will be hears as suspects. Also, of the 16 people detained, nine are public officials from the Education, Youth and Sports Department, the head of the Food Service from the Ministry of Defense, the other seven are representatives of commercial agents.”

Among the altered products that were delivered to the educational institutions are chicken, fish, cabbage, beans, potatoes and pasta. The contracts amounts ranged from several hundreds of thousands of lei to a few million lei.

The total amount of bribes sent to the public employees was estimated to 10 000 lei. However, the law enforcement officials will have to identify other people involved in the case.

If they will be found guilty, the individuals are facing up to 25 years in prison, a fine of up to 8,000 conventional units and deprivation of the right to hold public positions for a period of 10 years.

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