The volume of the Moldovan production with phytosanitary certificates increased after the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Rosselkhoznadzor has allowed the export of plant products for some companies from Moldova. This was achieved through the implementation of a complex logistics scheme, with the involvement of companies from Transnistria (thу RiseMD investigation “Export from ghost orchards") and Gagauzia (the anticoruptie.md investigation "Moscow duped by the Gagauz").
The journalists have discovered the involvement of a company affiliated with the adviser of the governor of Gagauzia Sergei Mihalciuc. Less than a month after its foundation, the Oguz-Agroprom company managed to get the permission for exporting fruits on the Russian market after a visit to Gagauzia the Rosselkhoznadzor’s experts according to anticoruptie.md.
The Rosselkhoznadzor’s visit
On May 30, 2015, just a month and a half after Irina Vlah became the governor of Gagauzia, the Rosselkhoznadzor’s experts has visited the region in order to resume exports of fruits.
The Oguz- Agroprom was founded by the governor’s adviser wife Natalia Mihalciuc. Without any experience, without their own production or orchards, the company was included with 7 other Gagauz companies in the list of companies eligible to export fruits on the Russian market, just because they hold deposits.
Mass issuing of certificates
Throughout 2015, the Mihalciuc’s company obtained over 100 phytosanitary certificates for export. The volume of exports increased at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. According to official data of the National Food Safety Agency of Drochia, between January 4-20, 2016, the Oguz-Agroprom won 67 phytosanitary certificates for export of over 1 300 tonnes of apples in Belarus.
anticoruptie.md"They came and said that they had harvest in Drochia. We went and checked the deposit, we checked samples, checked the cars," – affirmed the NFSA official Eugen Grigoras, quoted from the anticoruptie.md.
However, data obtained from the Customs Service shows that this company neither did not export a truck of apples during this period, nor obtained the CT-1 certificates required for exporting goods to the CIS.
The inspector Leonid Donos, who signed the company’s phytosanitary certificates, told to the Ziarul National journalists that he did not find anything suspicious in the company's activity: "I have seen apples in deposit. They submitted all necessary documents and I didn’t have a reason to refuse the issuance of phytosanitary certificates".
On January 22, 2016, the Rosselkhoznadzor has published a press release that informed about suspicious pears imported by the Oguz-Agroprom, that they would not be the Moldovan one.
A great project with the same name
The Rosselkhoznadzor’s permission to export goods to Russia was obtained with the involvement of a controversial Russian businessman Iuri Iakubov, originally from Gagauzia. He is also the external economic adviser of the governor of Gagauzia.
Iakubov financed the Gagauzian referendum about the establishing the vector of the foreign policy of Moldova on 2 February 2014. As well he financed the election campaign of Irina Vlah.
In November 2015, during an investment forum organized in Gagauzia, Iakubov presented a project of a logistics center “The Oguz-Market” on the outskirts of Moscow, for all producers of fruit, vegetables and meat from Gagauzia and other regions of Moldova, who are the potential exporters on the Russian market.
Mihalciuc is "tired of this story"
Contacted by Ziarul National Mihalciuc confirmed that Oguz-Agroprom belongs to his family but denied the company's involvement in the re-export scheme of Polish fruits: "I'm tired of this story. We have explained that we did not re-exported anything".
Mihalciuc also commented on the export permission: "We applied and were accepted. We made the investment. So far, we haven’t own goods, but we intend to invest in the production. We plan to build a refrigerator".
Mihalciuc claims that Iakubov didn’t help him to gain access to the Russian market. He commented on the similar manes of their companies: "As for the coincidence of the name of our companies, I can tell you that "Oguz" is a very important word for the Gagauz people". Some more Moldovan companies that the names consist of the "very important word for the Gagauz people word" were also founded by the Mihalciuc’s wife.
The scapegoat was found?
On January 26, the NAС officers detained the head of the NFSA’s Department of Plant Protection and Health Alexandru Ciobanu. He was suspected of passive corruption and issuing the phytosanitary certificates for export that were used in the re-export. For issuing one certificate he obtained 1000-1100 euro. But after Ciobanu’s arrest the issuing of certificates continued.
Ciobanu claims he tried to block the scheme after being informed about suspicious pears with Moldovan acts on the Belarus’ border.
The former NFSA’s director commented:
Porcescu also suggested the journalists not to return to the topic, because their investigation could lead to ban of exports from Moldova to the Russia.
Slusari Alexandru, the head of the "UniAgroProtect":
The Rosselkhoznadzor did not sanctioned the companies involved in the scheme
The sanctions were limited to the imposition the temporary restrictions on the import of goods with the Moldovan phytosanitary certificates through the Belarus.
Since March 14, 2016 the import of Moldovan plant products to the Russia can be done only if the goods have Moldovan phytosanitary certificates issued for the Russian companies, and only through the checkpoints of the Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk districts.
Irina Vlah, the Governor of Gagauzia:
The investigation was done by Ziarul National journalists as a part of the campaign "Journalists for integrity in public services".