Similar to the parliamentary elections of last November, the local elections campaign held by political parties this June was primarily funded by employees of companies that had acquired large contracts with the state over the past few years. The analysis of financial reports submitted by political factions to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) during the elections held on June 14, 2015 has revealed that founders, managers and ordinary employees of some companies which have concluded procurement contracts with various state institutions are among the generous sponsors of political parties. Some of these companies have signed big contracts even in the middle of the election campaign.
The biggest expenditures during this June’s general elections campaign were those of the Democratic Party (PDM) – MDL 23.8 million, followed by the Socialist Party (PSRM) – MDL 18.5 million and by Our Party (PPPN) – MDL 13.7 million. The rest of the political formations had more modest budgets: Communists Party of Moldova (PCRM) – MDL 8.2 million, PL – MDL 4.6 million, Popular European Party (PPEM) and Ravnopravie – MDL 2.3 million and 2.6 million.
These are the amounts officially declared at CEC by the political entities participating in the elections. The financial reports submitted by the parties did not include expenditures for grand concerts, unofficial TV advertising, “buying” votes and others.
The parties’ budgets have been formed exclusively through donations that for some parties came streaming, exactly like in the parliamentary elections from November 2014. The biggest donations came from representatives of business operators who have had large contracts with the state during the last few years. Reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism documented companies whose representatives had made donations to the parties that participated in the June 2015 elections. This is what we have found.
Even if the link between funders, parties and tenders won at first sight is not a direct one, the employees of several companies that have won government contracts in transports had made generous donations namely to the party whose member is the Minister of Transport and Road Infrastructure, and the workers of some companies that have won tenders in the construction industry had contributed to the elections funding of the party that had won the seat of the Minister of Regional Development and Construction. The picture is much clearer at a local level – the employees of companies that have won tenders had made donations to parties the members of which are leaders of Local Public Administration.
The most beautiful picture takes shape in the case of the Democratic Party, which has received donations from tens and hundreds of employees of more than 50 companies that have benefited from contracts of millions of lei from public money.
RED Nord JSC
The biggest amount of money donated to the PDM’s budget – MDL 1 072 700 - has been offered by 50 employees of RED Nord JSC and RED NordVest JSC. These two joint-stock companies with state capital are the main distributors of electrical energy in the Northern part of the republic. The line ministry for the energy sector of the country is the Ministry of Economy, chaired by Stephane Bride – a minister promoted by PDM. In 2013, RED Nord JSC obtained contracts with a total value of MDL 1 094 028, according to Public Procurement Agency data. Parcova, Edinet, Briceni and Balti Mayor’s offices are among the institutions that have concluded contracts with the abovementioned company.
The employees of Moldtelecom JSC have donated over 700 thousand lei. This institution is subordinated to the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications. The Minister of ITC is Pavel Filip was proposed by PDM. Between 2011 and 2015, Moldtelecom has signed contracts amounting to MDL 35.8 million with various state institutions. The biggest contract, of MDL 10 160 000, has been concluded with the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection (MLFSP), chaired by a democrat, for internet services. Contracts of almost 600 thousand lei have been signed with the National Employment Agency, an institution subordinated to the MLFSP; MDL 4 million from the Ministry of Finance; MDL 2.3 million from the Animals Register; MDL 2.7 million from the Intelligence and Security Service. The Investigations centre has previously written about the fact that friends and business partners of Vitalie Iurcu, director general of Moldtelecom, had been awarded, through a group of companies, tenders of millions of lei, at contests organized by the state-owned joint-stock company, a fact that the management of Moldtelecom tried to hide.
Vitalie Iurcu, director general of Moldtelecom, has been recently appointed vice-minister of Economy, the respective ministry being shared by PDM.
Natalia Sanduta, director of UNIC shopping centre, is a member of PDM and has participated in the 2015 local elections as a PDM candidate for councilman’s office in the CMC. Nine employees of the JSC managed by Sanduta donated together MDL 120 000. UNIC JSC has been awarded tenders of 234 thousand lei for delivering different materials and office supplies. 60 thousand lei have entered the company’s accounts as payment for carpets for the General Prosecutor’s Office.
Important donations for PDM – MDL 100 000 – have been made by three employees of Drumuri-Edinet JSC, one of whom is the director, Leonid Corcimari. In 2013, the State Road Administration announced a tender for the procurement of current repairs of public roads in Briceni, Donduseni, Drochia, Edinet, Falesti, Floresti, Glodeni, Ocnita, Riscani, Singerei and Soldanesti rayons, and the bid was awarded to Drumuri-Edinet JSC. After the contract was signed, the company’s accounts received MDL 1,7 million.
Constructorul Telenesti JSC
Mihail Tetelea, employee of Constructorul Telenesti, made important donations as well. He gave 80 thousand lei to the PDM during the local elections. In 2012, Constructorul Telenesti JSC signed a contract of over MDL 305 000 with Telenesti Rayon Council for sidewalk repairs in the village of Mandresti. After this year’s elections, a democrat has taken the mayor’s office of the abovementioned village, and democrats have won 10 seats in Telenesti Rayon Council.
MDL 70 000 have entered PDM’s accounts as a result of receiving from employees of Molddata JSC, institution subordinated to another ministry managed by PDM – Ministry of Information Technology and Communications. Between 2011 and 2015, Molddata JSC has signed procurement contracts with several state institutions, with a total value of MDL 1 622 216. Most of the public money has ended up in Molddata’s budget through contracts with the Office of the Prosecutor General – about MDL 600 000 for servicing the informational system.
MDL 90 000 have been donated to the democrats by Serghei Rapcea, a member of PDM, currently a rayon councilman in Anenii-Noi. In November 2014, Serghei Rapcea ran for parliament on behalf of the Democratic Party (PD). In the financial reports submitted by PDM to CEC, Serghei Rapcea was mentioned as an employee of Gara-Auto LLC, although such a company does not exist in the State Chamber of Registration (SCR) database. However, Rapcea declared himself temporarily unemployed in November 2014, although SCR data showed that he was director general at Transpremium LLC. He is also founder of Cristehtrans LLC, and administrator and founder of Cristranscom LLC. Cristehtrans LLC is specialized in transport services, but also does renovations of premises. In 2013-2014, Cristehtrans LLC signed contracts with the state for a total amount of MDL 1.7 million. The majority of tenders won were organized by public institutions from Anenii Noi. In 2014, Transpremium LLC, specialized in transports, also signed two contracts in Anenii Noi, with a total value of MDL 116 227. Cristranscom LLC, the third company owned by Serghei Rapcea, specialized in road repairs, has also won a series of tenders amounting to MDL 18 million in 2014-2015. Cristranscom LLC has won a large contract of MDL 1 million with Anenii Noi Rayon Council even during this year’s election campaign. The rest of the contracts signed in 2014 were for road repairs in different communities of Straseni, Stefan Voda, Anenii Noi, and Edinet rayons. In these rayons, the chairmen of Rayon Councils are members of the Democratic Party.
Valeriu Velescu, employed at Oztor LLC, donated MDL 70 000 to PDM. Velescu’s employer provides a large variety of services – construction of buildings, stadiums, repair works, urbanism and even water supply. Thus, in the period between 2011 and 2014, the company has signed contracts with various state institutions, with a total value of about MDL 9 million. Among the institutions that signed with Oztor LLC are the implementation unit of the social housing construction, institution subordinated to the Ministry of Regional Development and Construction (chaired by a democrat) – almost MDL 2.3 million, Civil Protection and Emergency Situations Service (CPESS) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – over MDL 1.5 million, Calarasi Rayon Council – MDL 609 000, Oniscani Mayor’s office (Calarasi) – MDL 176 000, Bogzesti Mayor’s office (Telenesti) – about MDL 285 000 and Tuzara Mayor’s office (Calarasi) – MDL 193 000. After the elections, PDM members took the mayor’s office in the last three communities mentioned above.
Vasile Puscas, employed at Vaspus LLC, a company specialized in building water line networks, contributed to PDM’s electoral fund with MDL 60 000. In the period between 2011 and 2015, the abovementioned company has won tenders of MDL 4.6 million. Most of the contracts have been signed in Calarasi rayon communities. Calarasi Rayon Council only has concluded contracts with Vaspus LLC amounting to MDL 1.7 million. PDM has taken 9 seats in Calarasi Rayon Council. Ilie Rau, a democrat, was chairman of Calarasi rayon in the period the contracts had been signed. Calarasi City Hall transferred MDL 356 000 to the accounts of Vaspus LLC for the construction of the sewage network. The city’s mayor is also a member of PDM.
Alexandru Rotari, founder and administrator of Ranao-Transcom LLC, has been generous with PDM, donating MDL 60 000. His company won two public procurement contracts with Rezina Mayor’s Office, with a total value of about MDL 424 000. One of them was signed during the election campaign, for soil loosening of the land in the proximity of 27 August str. in Rezina. At that time, the mayor of Rezina was a democrat, and after the elections another party colleague took his place. An investigation of the CIJM shows that both procurement contracts concluded with Rezina Mayor’s Office have been completed only partially by Ranao-Transcom LLC.
Another sponsor of PDM is Igor Lucasciuc, who donated MDL 50 000 during local elections. Even if he declares himself an employee at the Ocnita Railway Junction, since March 2010 he has also been working as a lawyer at Vista-Const LLC. The respective company has had an income of over MDL 300 000 from various public procurement contracts in 2014 alone. A month before last autumn’s elections, the company was awarded a public procurement contract with the Department of Social Assistance and Family Protection of Ocnita town, with a value of over MDL 81 500, for the renovation of the elderly care home in Calarasovca village. Also in 2014, “Vista-Const” delivered building materials with a total value of MDL 122 800 at the request of Briceni Education, Youth and Sports Department. Over MDL 200000 from public money also have entered “Vista-Const”’s accounts in 2013.
Anatolie Iasciuc, director of Stilconstruct LLC, has also been generous with PDM by donating MDL 50 000. Although his company specializes in constructions, it was also awarded bids for delivering food products. In the period between 2012 and 2014, Stilconstruct has won five tender contests with a total value of about MDL 3.7 million. Stauceni Mayor’s office, chaired by a democrat after the elections, transferred MDL 695 000 to the company’s accounts for the delivery of food products.
Another MDL 3.3 million have entered the company’s account from Rascani Education, Youth and Sports Department.
Conplast Design LLC
Valeriu Papcov, employed at Conplast Design LLC, donated MDL 50 000 to the democrats. The abovementioned company has been on the market since 1998 and is a producer and seller of windows, doors, stained glass windows and shutters, insulated windows and various accessories. The company won several tenders with a total value of MDL 219 549. The contracts were signed with the “Toma Ciorba” Infectious Diseases Hospital and the Culture and Tourism Department of Soroca Rayon Council.
Podis LLC, a company that delivers building materials, donated MDL 50 000 to the PDM budget through Trifan Druta. In 2011-2012, the company won tenders of MDL 638 000, most of them being contracted by Telenesti Mayor’s office. During that period, Trifan Druta was been a PDM councilman in the Inesti Local Council, the mayor of this community is a representative of the same party, as a result of the 2015 elections. The democrats have also taken 10 seats in Telenesti Rayon Council.
During the elections campaign held in November 2014, PLDM had a network of rich donations, which became much poorer during the local elections of 2015. The analysis of financial reports shows that some of the old donors migrated to another political formation, founded by former liberal-democrats.
Plai Mereni LLC
MDL 99 000 was donated to PLDM’s budget by Alexandru Barbarosie of Plai Mereni LLC. The company specializes in bakery products and is managed by Gheorghe Barbarosie, Alexandru Barbarosie’s father, and has signed procurement contracts with various state institutions amounting to almost 2.5 million lei during 2011-2015. 1.2 million lei of public money had been contracted out by various state institutions subordinated to the Ministry of Healthcare in the period when Andrei Usatii, a member of PLDM, was acting minister of Healthcare. The largest of the abovementioned contracts – amounting to MDL 734 137 – was signed with the Municipal Phtisiopneumology Hospital. Other institutions that the company has had contracts with are subordinated to the Ministry of Education, which was headed by PLDM as a result of political power sharing. Thus, more than half of a million lei were transferred from the state’s budget to Plai Mereni’s accounts for delivering food products to different education institutions. The biggest contracts were signed with Vocational School No.5 of Chisinau – MDL 362 312 and the Republican Sports Boarding School – MDL 283 682.
Another beneficial contract was signed with Codru Mayor’s office, Chisinau municipality, amounting to MDL 292 085. Munteanu Vladimir, a member of PLDM, won the race for the Codru mayor’s office. In the same manner, the one who had made the MDL 99 000 donation to PLDM’s elections fund, Alexandru Barbarosie, became chairman of Anenii Noi District.
Another MDL 99 000 was donated to PLDM by Sergiu Budescu, employee of Bias-Trans LLC. In the period between 2011 and 2014, the company received money from various institutions from Anenii Noi, for transport services. Anenii Noi Mayor’s office also signed a MDL 308 000 procurement contract with the company. As a result of the elections, PLDM won 9 seats and chairmanship of Anenii Noi Rayon Council.
The European People’s Party was founded several months before the local elections, mainly by former PLDM members. The analysis of its financial reports shows that not only PLDM members migrated to the new political body, but so did generous donors who have had public procurement contracts with institutions headed by persons promoted by PLDM.
Nicolae Rozembac, the manager of NiRom-Roz LLC, donated MDL 55 525 to PPEM. This company is specialized in roads constructions and repairs, but also does road works. Enormous amounts of money – MDL 103.3 million – have entered the company’s accounts during the last four years, since 2011 and until 2015. The biggest contracts were signed in 2011-2012 with the State Road Administration, with a value of MDL 63.3 million. Procurement contracts of over MDL 33.7 million were concluded either directly with Calarasi Rayon Council, or with various communities in the same rayon. Thus, in the very middle of the 2015 election campaign, the company signed two procurement contracts with Calarasi Rayon Council, for repair works of two roads, on the same day. Two more tenders amounting to MDL 1.19 million were awarded to the abovementioned company in 2014 by Valcinet Mayor’s office (Calarasi Rayon), a community where a PPEM representative won in the local elections. Four members of PPEM also became councilmen in Calarasi Rayon Council after elections.
Maxprof Grup LLC
Tudor Popescu, employee at Maxprof Grup LLC, also made a generous donation of MDL 60 000 to PPEM during the elections campaign. The Ministry of Internal Affairs procured the Integrated Automated Information System from “Maxprof Grup” LLC, paying MDL 764 900, while the Ministry’s website shows an amount of MDL 779 000. Following this transaction, the Public Procurement Agency, MIA and “MaxProf Grup” LLC had been sued by “Media security” LLC, a company in the same field of activity, in order to challenge an administrative document. According to PPA’s website, the appeal was dismissed.
Bass System LLC
The employing company of Andrei Cojocari, who donated 50 thousand lei to PPEM’s budget, also signed contracts with the state. The company that pays his salary, Bass System, has signed three procurement contracts totalling MDL 28.8 million with state institutions in the period between 2011 and 2013. Thus, the company’s accounts received public money from the Customs Service, National Commission for Financial Markets and the Court of Accounts for various IT equipment and services.
The generous donors of liberals come primarily from Chisinau municipal structures and services, the mayor of which is a representative of PL.
Central Market Municipal Enterprise
Twelve persons who are entrepreneurs at Central Market Municipal Enterprise made generous donations to PL – MDL 288 000. The enterprise’s director, Ion Stratulat, is a member of PL and ran for office in the 2011 local elections as candidate for the Chisinau Municipal Council. Central Market has also been awarded contracts for supplying food products to public institutions in Chisinau with a total value of almost MDL 44 million during the last four years.
MDL 2.7 million of public money were spent on contracts between Central Market Municipal Enterprise and “M. Viteazul” Theoretical High School in Chisinau, an institution known to be in a close relationship with PL. Contracts for other almost MDL 37 million were also concluded with Chisinau’s General Department for Education, Youth and Sports. Alexandru Fleas, deputy manager of this institution, is a PL counsellor.
Another gesture of extreme generosity came from Rodica Topala, PL counsellor Iurie Topala’s wife, and manager and founder of Ruta-Prim LLC, funding the elections campaign of the party of which her husband is a member with MDL 300 000. The Public Procurement Agency’s website shows that Ruta-Prim Service, which holds 40% of the shares at Ruta-Prim LLC, delivered snow removal equipment with a total value of MDL 5 million to General Division of Public Transport and Communication Networks of Chisinau in 2013. Three years earlier, Ruta Prim Service had won another contract for delivering winter road maintenance equipment with a total value of MDL 37.8 million to “State Roads Administration” State Enterprise. Anatol Salaru, vice-president of PL, has been Minister of Transport and Roads Infrastructure, institution handling the activity of State Road Administration, in the period between 2009 and 2013.
In 2011, “Transcom-M” JSC, managed by liberal counsellor Iurie Nastas, who donated MDL 400 000 to the party he is a member of, had signed three procurement contracts for road repair and construction works with various state institutions, with a total amount of MDL 3,87 million. The biggest contract, amounting to MDL 2.68 million, was concluded with the State Roads Administration. In 2011, the abovementioned institution was subordinated to the Ministry headed by a PL member at that time.
Dina Cociug LLC
Four employees of Dina Cociug LLC, specialized in delivering and servicing technological equipment, generously donated MDL 195 100 during the local election campaign. The same company has been awarded procurement contracts with state institutions worth millions of lei during the last few years. Thus, in 2015 alone the company signed three contracts totalling MDL 226 141 with Balti City Hall and Ocnita Mayor’s office. After this year’s elections, Ocnita Mayor’s office has been headed by Ion Ciumac, a representative of the Socialist Party. In 2013 and 2014, Dina Cociug LLC also concluded contracts with a total value of MDL 4.4 million with various state institutions. Most of the money came from “Mihai Eminescu” Theoretical High School in Falesti – MDL 518 940, Rezina General Department for Education, Youth and Sports – MDL 279 432, Cahul City Hall – MDL 238 265, “Gheorghe Raducan” Agro-Industrial College in Grincauti – MDL 304 125, Taul Agricultural College – MDL 479 760. In the same time, Victor Chirilici, employed at Dina Cociug LLC, is promoted by PSRM to the position of councilman in Chisinau Municipal Council. In Falesti and Rezina, PSRM candidates for mayor’s office have reached the second elections round, but eventually lost the race.
Bujor Sport LLC
Another company that made important donations to PSRM, Bujor Sport LLC, has signed procurement contracts with the National Olympic Committee and the National Teams Training Sports Center, with a total value of MDL 399 495, for sports equipment and clothing during 2012 and 2013. During the local elections campaign, Olesea Popova, employed at this company, has donated MDL 65 300 to PSRM.
Amidst the elections campaign, Autotehnica LLC and Varvareuca Mayor’s office, Floresti Rayon, signed a contract of MDL 106 000 for the delivery of gravel. During the elections campaign, 10 employees of the abovementioned company have donated a total amount of 122 thousand lei.
During the local election campaign, the budget of “Our Party” People’s Party has received MDL 50 000 from Iurie Ceban, administrator of Mobilemn-Grup LLC. In 2013 and 2014, the company specializing in producing furniture, received thousands of lei from public money, especially from Gagauzia Teritorial-Administrative Unit (TAU). This company signed four procurement contracts with state institutions: in 2013 – a contract amounting to MDL 74 880 with Gagauzia TAU General Department of Youth and Sports and in 2014 – a contract with a total value of MDL 73 400 with Gagauzia TAU Department of Emergency Situations; a contract of almost MDL 50 000 with Falesti Town Hall and another one for another MDL 80 000 with Ialpujeni Mayor’s office, Cimislia Rayon. After the elections, PPPN took the mayor’s office in Comrat – capital city of Gagauzia TAU, as well as other four villages in the region. Similarly, a representative of Usatii’s party took the mayor’s seat in Falesti after the elections.
Goliat-Vita LLC is yet another company specialized in furniture production and which made substantial donations to PPPN. Its founders – Serghei and Ludmila Anastasov, with other two of its employees, donated a total amount of MDL 220 000. Even if the company’s main objective is furniture production, it also has several other declared fields of activity. In 2014-2015, Anastasovs’ company has won 12 tender contests organized by various institutions from Gagauzia TAU. The total amount of the contracts signed was almost MDL 800 000. The biggest contract was with Sireti Mayor’s office, Straseni Rayon, amounting to MDL 199 900. Serghei Anastasov is also president of the Business Association of Gagauzia and has run for Comrat’s mayor’s office on behalf of Our Party, winning the second round of the elections.
Impressive amounts of money were donated to PCRM by employees of companies from the DAAC Hermes Group or affiliated to it. DAAC Hermes Group is the official dealer of several car brands. Among its various fields of activity, the most important is car retail and service. Corneliu Cornetchi, administrator of Antares LLC, donated MDL 1.25 million to the Communist Party. His employer is a daughter company of the DAAC Hermes Group holding, Vasili Chirtoca’s company, who was also PCRM’s candidate for the capital’s mayor’s office.
PCRM’s financial reports indicate the fact that donations come from businesses and these are only legalized by being provided under the names of individuals. For example, Iurie Morosan donated MDL 500 000 to PCRM, only that when he donated MDL 300 000 of this amount he indicated that he was administrator of Pielart JSC, and donating the amount of MDL 200 000 he declared he was administrator of Daac Prom LLC, both being daughter companies of the DAAC Hermes Group (!). Iurie Morosan is also vice-president of the “DAAC Hermes Group” JSC board of directors.
Another member of DAAC Hermes Group LLC’s Council, Gheorghe Dodi, donated MDL 300 000 to the communists’ treasury, but mentioned that he was administrator of Stelarinvest LLC. Chircu Vladislav, PCRM’s candidate for municipal council, donated MDL 100 000 to the communists. He is administrator of Gura Bacului fishing area, company belonging to the DAAC Hermes Group. Vladislav Chircu is also vice-president of DAAC-Eco-Plant. Another company affiliated to DAAC Hermes is Auto Mall LLC. Five of its employees donated MDL 60 000 to PCRM’s budget. Employees of Daac Auto LLC, yet another company in the DAAC Hermes Group, showed devotion to PCRM, donating MDL 40 000. MDL 71 000 were donated by other three employees of DAAC Hermes JSC. Among the donors we found Vladimir Hinculov, who is also administrator of Logistic Standard LLC, a company that made a donation of MDL 1.7 million as a legal entity.
All companies of the DAAC Hermes holding signed procurement contracts worth tens of millions with state institutions.
In 2015, DAAC Hermes signed procurement contracts totalling MDL 1.8 million with various state institutions. Most of the money came from the National Patrolling Inspectorate of General Police Inspectorate of MIA – MDL 1.2 million. Between 2011 and 2014, DAAC Hermes concluded procurement contracts with various state institutions amounting to MDL 9.85 million as follows: Chisinau Customs Office – MDL 489 066, Auto Depot of the State Chancellery – MDL 1.03 million, MIA – MDL 674 523, Secretariat of the Parliament – MDL 659 600, National Patrolling Inspectorate of GPI of MIA – MDL 1.96 million, Department of Penitentiary Institutions – MDL 891 932, State Protection and Guard Service – MDL 374 700, Auto Depot of the Parliament – MDL 693 490.
Auto Mall LLC
In 2013-2014, MDL 1.2 million were transferred to the accounts of Auto Mall LLC by various state institutions: Information and Security Service – MDL 450 000, MIA – MDL 306 600.
In 2015, DAAC Auto signed procurement contracts with a total value of MDL 1.4 million with several state institutions. Even during the election campaign, DAAC Auto accounts received MDL 250 thousand for a transport unit procured by Cimislia Rayon Hospital. In the period between 2011 and 2014, Daac Auto signed procurement contracts with a total value of MDL 55,5 million with various state institutions: Department of Penitentiary Institutions – MDL 2.3 million, National Food Safety Agency – MDL 818 360, MIA – MDL 1.4 million, Customs Service – MDL 3.4 million, Parliament’s Secretariat – MDL 1.8 million, Financial Inspection – MDL 1.6 million, Cabinet of the President – MDL 1.7 million, Auto Depot of the State Chancellery – MDL 3.7 million, National Integrity Commission – MDL 1.02 million, Court of Accounts – MDL 2.5 million, State Tax Service – MDL 865 294, Giurgiulesti Port Administration – MDL 894 452, Auto Depot of Parliament – MDL 1.4 million, State Protection and Guard Service – MDL 2.9 million, Audiovisual Coordinating Council – MDL 1.04 million.
What experts say
In 2013, in the third stage of evaluations, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), of which Moldova is a member as well, recommended Moldovan authorities to improve laws on election campaign funding and eliminate the vulnerability regarding the political relationship of business operators and political parties.
Several experts we spoke with say that as long as the law is not improved, the parties will use obscure schemes to fund election campaigns. One of the schemes is related to public procurement. Some contracts are conditioned on the payment of some amounts of money, it is said to be 10% of the contract value, the so-called "kickback", to the party of which the chief of the institution that organized the tender is a member. The stake of business operators who fund political parties is placed on individuals, employees or even outsiders who are not checked whether their incomes are in accordance with the donations they make to the parties. This is the easiest method, experts say: they will not be verified, the link to the party will not stand out when the person wins tenders or other benefits.
At our request to comment on the situation related to the donations to parties and other incentives that business companies would benefit from before or after the election campaign, anticorruption expert Mariana Kalughin states that “Moldovan political parties are dependent on funds from groups of interests and companies”.
“The picture is predictable. Donations – either made directly or through certain individuals – reconfirm the fact that political parties are supported by groups of interests during the election campaign, so that when they come to power, they would offer some advantages to their supporters: make them benefit from this relationship, affiliation during public procurement tenders, and the circle of these mutually beneficial relationships is much larger”, the expert specified.
According to several experts, this is happening because the law on political party funding has not been changed. The requirement specifying that donations from businesses should be accepted only if there is a decision of the representing body – council, general assembly or founders’ assembly – was not introduced. In cases when individuals make donations, it should be checked that the donated amount is in accordance with the person’s income and if the state tax was paid. Law enforcement institutions do not start investigating suspicious cases, explaining that citizens file their income declarations by March 31, and until then, they cannot be verified, and after this date nobody remembers to investigate.
Laura Stefan, anticorruption expert from Romania, also states that “it is necessary to make very strict verifications of donations to parties”.
“I have noticed the same thing in Romania, and similar schemes appeared in other countries as well, schemes in which companies’ employees were making donations to political parties or independent candidates. It is a matter of evidence, after all, and tracking these donations. I know there are examples of countries which, with the help of their national control authority, examine whether individuals donating to political parties have the financial resources that would allow them to make such donations. In fact, this is the key. If you notice that a person lives at the limit of subsistence, but also makes large donations to political parties, it is obvious that as a control authority you should raise some questions”, the expert said.
“I know that there is the Central Electoral Commission in Moldova, which should check all these things and punish donations that do not comply with legal conditions, by transferring them to the state budget inclusively, and punish law violations, if there are any, of course”, said Laura Stefan.
During the last few years, the CIJM has produced several investigative reports that highlighted the links between some public procurements and suspicious donations for parties or extremely large donations made by unemployed or retired people, but law enforcement institutions did not start investigating those cases.
This investigation has been produced as part of the campaign “The Public Budget Is My Money Too”, carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism of Moldova (CIJM) and the Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance (AERG), under a project financed by the European Union and National Endowment for Democracy.