According to Expert Grup, forestry sector handled by Moldsilva Agency is one of the poorly reformed sectors whose activity is quite hidden from publicity.
Infringements highlighted in the latest report by Court of Accounts
On 29th of March this year the Court of Accounts made an official statement on results of inspection conducted to determine the conformity of economic decisions made by Moldsilva Agency in 2014. According to Court of Accounts, the inspection confirmed preliminary conclusions about Moldsilva, namely the aggravation of financial and economic offences made in forestry sector.
Offences revealed by the Court are numerous. According to the report, during 2014 Agency omitted several possibilities to gain income in the amount of 11.6 million lei (on lease of forestry funds, non-recovery of compensations, misused subsidies, etc) and inefficiently spent and distributed around 37.4 million lei (for salary, government purchases, land lease, non-registered property, etc).
Aside of this the following infringements were registered:
delimitation and non-registration of governmental ownership of forestry fund which was sold on contesting property right in amount of 192.72 ha. as well as illegal usage of territories in amount of 178.85 ha; violating citizens’ legitimate freedom to visit territories of forestry funds by installation of illegal fences; approving the lease of territories from LPA in amount of 22.2 ha; allowing constructions to be performed on leased territories and registering ownership rights on such constructions; growth of rental debts; misuse of governmental budget allocated for planting of greenery; defective activity of forestry enterprises, etc.
Infringements registered by Court of Accounts were caused by defective activities which took place in administration of the sector and subsectors performed by Moldsilva. According to Court of Accounts this shows an irresponsible attitude of management which contradicts with interests of state.
During the session where audition results were discussed, Serafim Urecheanu, the president of the Court of Accounts, proposed to dissolute the agency and stated: “they should be sprayed with their insecticide in several layers” (it is worth noting that Moldsilva spent a certain amount of money on this insecticide), otherwise “soon we will see Cahul and Briceni from Chisinau with binoculars”.
Public purchases: around 28 million lei from the beginning of 2016
On the webpage of Public Procurement Agency can be seen that from the beginning of 2016 Moldsilva signed 20 contracts in the amount of 28 million lei of which 27.4 million were spent on forestation. All the contracts on forestation were signed with governmental forestry enterprises subordinate to Moldsilva Agency, resulting in around 20 economical operators talking part in every procedure. Furthermore, 17 contracts were distributed between subordinated agencies in one day – 04.03.16. It means that during one day Moldsilva made a decision on distributing around 24 million lei from public budget (misuse of public budget was mentioned in the last report of Court of Accounts as one of violations). Of course, the goal is noble, but the methods to distribute the budgets should be noble as well.
Cases of distributing the contracts in one day also took place in 2013 and 2014. In 2013 managers of Moldsilva distributed 12 contracts in the amount of 3.5 million lei in one day (11.07.2013) and to one company – Maleo SRL (registered in Romania) which was the only participant. The objects of purchases were overalls and accessories for workers.
Almost the same situation emerged in 2014 when on 29th of January were distributed 11 contracts on purchase of insecticides in the amount of 3.5 million lei. These contracts were assigned to Rezerport company which happened to be the only economical agent taking part in tender. According to a statement of Court of Accounts, in 2014 Moldsilva surcharged around 8.5 million lei during public purchases.
Looking for the ones responsible
Corruption doesn’t exist were managers do not support it. It seems that Moldsilva prefers managers who are quite tolerant to corruption.
In June 2015 Gheorghe Vdovii, ex-CEO of Moldsilva Agency, was convicted to six years of prison with a prohibition to hold any public duties for 3 years. He was convicted of abuse of power which had severe consequences. In November 2010 Vdovii signed a decree which provided residential property to employees of forestry sector, allocating for this 7.8 ha of land (public property) in sector Durlesti. Almost 121thousands lei were spent on designing this territory, severely violating governmental budget.
In the beginning of this year another case of corruption arose in “Forestry Enterprise of Edinet“. CEO of the enterprise and his son were arrested for passive corruption. CEO was convicted for taking a bribe in amount of 3000 Euro for employment of a person as a chief-forester. The bribe was taken by CEO’s son. Both of them also had weapons which were illegal or held in inappropriate conditions. “Forestry Enterprise of Edinet” was the main target in the last report of Court of Accounts.
Another director of Moldsilva – Stefan Chitoroaga – appeared in journalistic investigation as he “set his eyes” on 1.6 hectares of land. He tried to unite the state enterprise "The municipal forestry enterprises" and the Institute of Research and Improvement of Forest Management so to move the material base to the institute. In November 2014 the government made Chitoroaga resign because he used the administrative resources for political purposes.
As a result of the audit in 2010, the Court of Accounts found that Moldsilva management stole in 2008-2009 83 million lei from the public fund. In the same period 200 thousands lei were spent on "material support" to employees, the company bought two cars for 500 thousand lei and celebrated an anniversary of 400 thousands lei.
Another head of Moldsilva, Ion Lupu, appeared in «Pădurea Domnească» case. He was arrested together with the other 2 responsible persons in the nature reserve. They were accused of a number of violations: illegal hunt, forgery, abuse of power, false evidence and pressure on affiants.
Case «Pădurea Domnească» concerned the illegal hunt, in which judges (including the chairman of the Court of Appeals, Ion Plesca), prosecutors (including Valery Zubko), government officials and entrepreneurs took part.
During the hunt there was accidentally killed a young businessman Sorin Pachu. The fact of the murder surfaced only after 2 weeks when Sergiu Mocanu announced it on 01.06.2013.
Ion Ciobanu is the head of Moldsilva now.
Deforestation – an enrichment of officials
The forest areas in Moldova continue to decrease. Moldova is on the last place in Europe for the percentage of forest area per capita. The state losses millions from illegal deforestation. At the same time the official enriches.
It is clear from the last report of the Court of Account that the management of Moldsilva takes a lot of destructive for the sector solutions.
Thus, the report states that the total volume of cut forests was about 2487 cubic meters in 2014 that makes losses of 557.1 thousand lei.
In 2015 the state enterprise "Forestry Enterprise of Edinet" fixed an enormous deforestation (4579.7 cubic meters), which led to losses of 586.6 thousand lei.
The so-called "Security of forests" does not fulfill its function, but only spends huge sums for the maintenance of the administrative apparatus. Thus, in 2014 they spent 1.288 million lei (which exceeds the planned budget for 232.9 thousands lei). The results of the security, however, are very modest. The Court of Accounts set that the forest security doesn’t fulfill its obligation to ensure the protection of forest from poachers.
The portal ecopresa.md presents a number of articles about illegal deforestation and participation of officials in it.
It is quite obvious the fact that illegal deforestation takes place with the "silent consent" of officials who are rewarded for it.
Curaj.tv made an interesting movie on the topic "Foresters come to "bow" to the boss, Moldsilva denies everything":