The Portrait of a Head of National Penitentiary Administration (Part II): One More Undeclared House and Instructions Given to a Subordinate in Obscene Language
ZdG revealed in a recent investigation that Serghei Demcenco, deputy director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries, lives in an undeclared luxury house in a residential sector in midtown Chișinău. Recently, ZdG has found that Demcenco is also co-owner of another house, also located in Chișinău, which he did not mention in his declarations of assets and personal interests.
The court found Serghei Demcenco guilty of allowing a conflict of interest. Nonetheless, the National Integrity Authority ceased the checks on this case. Meanwhile, ZdG got some audio recordings showing that Demcenco telephoned a subordinate several times and gave orders to employ his nephew in one of the penitentiaries. Demcenco, as usual, refused to answer ZdG’s questions.
On June 25, 2020, ZdG wrote that for several years, Serghei Demcenco, the longest-serving head of the National Administration of Penitentiaries, dwells in a house in Chișinău. The house is registered in the name of his mother. And he did not mention it in his declarations of assets and personal interests.
Starting with 2014, the deputy director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries indicated in his declarations donations of 60,000 euros from relatives.
According to the article written in June, the court found Demcenco guilty of not declaring a conflict of interest. Moreover, Demcenco appears in an old criminal case, in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) convicted Moldova.
The Undeclared House in Dumbrava
After publishing the first article, ZdG found out that Demcenco owns another undeclared house, located in Dumbrava, officially part of Trușeni, but in the immediate vicinity of the Buiucani district in Chișinău.
According to the data from the Land Registry Services, the house is only 60 square meters and it is built on a 600-square-meter lot, registered as orchard land. However, the house is much more spacious with an annex built in the yard, which is not registered at the Land Registry Services.
The Demcenco family has owned this house since 2007. At that time, half of the property was registered in the name of the spouses’ Ala and Serghei Demcenco, and the other half – in the name of Galina and Mihail Demcenco, Serghei Demcenco’ parents.
Later, after the death of Serghei Demcenco’s father, Galina, the widow, inherited his part. Currently, the spouses Ala and Serghei Demcenco and his mother, a retiree, equally own the house. Demcenco included the house in Dumbrava in the declarations of assets and personal interests submitted for the years 2014-2016. However, starting with 2017, Demcenco didn’t include in his declaration of assets the house in Dumbrava. Back then, Demcenco already held the position of deputy director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries.
Currently, Demcenco’s mother, aged 75, lives in this house. On August 3, we went to Dumbrava, to ask Galina Demcenco a few questions. We knew that she was a teacher in Prodănești village, Florești district, the north of Moldova. Currently, she owns a luxury house in the Râșcani district, midtown Chișinău, an apartment in the Buiucani district in Chișinău, and a share from the house in Dumbrava. Subsequently, we wanted to ask her about her income.
We knocked on the gate for minutes, but the woman did not get out to talk to us. While still in front of the gate, we called Galina Demcenco on her cell phone. After informing her that we were from ZdG, the woman did not wait to find out the subject of the discussion and cut us short: “Mind your own business and don’t bother me with questions. Why are you calling me? I am not interested in your journalism. That’s all. I’m a sick woman and I don’t care what you want.”
Chișinău Court of Appeal Declared Demcenco Guilty
ZdG wrote at the end of June that the Chișinău Court found Demcenco guilty of failure to declare a conflict of interest on March 27, this year. According to the ordinance that served as the basis for starting the misdemeanor process, between December 2018 and January 2019, when Serghei Demcenco was deputy director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries, he “exerted pressure on Mîrzac Sergiu to formally conduct the contest for the position of Head of the Logistics and Administration Department of Penitentiary 8 from Bender and promote in this position the National Administration of Penitentiaries employee Papca Mihail,” Demcenco’s nephew.
Although the court ruled that Demcenco’s guilt was fully proven, the trial was stopped because of the limitation period of the contravention liability. Demcenco disagreed with the decision of the Chișinău Court, and filed an appeal through his lawyer. On July 1, the Chișinău Court of Appeal upheld the first-instance decision by which Demcenco was found guilty of failing to declare a conflict of interest, and declared the decision irrevocable.
National Integrity Authority Stated that Demcenco Is Not Guilty
The National Integrity Authority initiated an investigation on the case in which Demcenco is accused of exerting pressures on the deputy director of Penitentiary 8 from Bender to hire his nephew. A decision dated May 20, 2020, and published on the National Integrity Authority website on July 29, states that when Demcenco signed documents regarding his nephew, Mihail Papca, “Mr. Demcenco Serghei was not in real conflict of interest and did not admit conflicts of interest.”
Thus, Ada Griciuc, the superior integrity inspector who verified the compliance with the legal regime of the conflicts of interests regarding Serghei Demcenco, ordered the termination of the control procedure. The integrity inspector stated that according to the Law on the Prison Administration System, civil servants with special status are in a conflict of interest if they are to resolve requests, make decisions or participate in decision-making regarding persons, who are spouses or first degree relatives. According to the decision of the inspector, Demcenco is not a first degree relative of Papca Mihail, Demcenco’s nephew.
Obscene Language Used to Give Indications for the Promotion of His Nephew
After ZdG wrote about Demcenco, several messages came to the newsroom, informing of various irregularities in the penitentiary system to which Demcenco would be complicit. Messages came from detainees, from current and former employees of the National Administration of Penitentiaries, and from employees from other national security institution.
ZdG received a message containing several audio files, allegedly recordings of telephone conversations between Demcenco and Sergiu Mîrzac, made at the time when Demcenco was trying to promote his nephew to the position of Head of the Logistics and Administration Department of Penitentiary 8 from Bender, which was then run by Mîrzac.
The audio recordings reveal that Demcenco used vulgar language while speaking to his subordinate. He implied that the Human Resources representative may be found incompetent if she does not agree to employ persons proposed by her superiors.
In another conversation, Demcenco rudely demands from Mîrzac a detailed written report of his week activity. He mocks at his subordinate in response to Mîrzac’s supposed intention to file a complaint and he repeatedly uses obscene language.
Mîrzac was surprised to hear that ZdG holds the telephone records. Initially, he hesitated to talk to us. However, he confirmed that such kind of conversations between him and Demcenco took place, although he refused to give us details. “There are court decisions on this case, I do not want to comment more,” Mîrzac told us.
He Delegated His Nephew to a Training Course in the United States
In July 2019, while serving as interim director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries, Demcenco signed an order, delegating nine of his employees to Canon City in the U.S. to participate in a two-week training course. Among them was his nephew, Mihail Papca. A few months earlier, Papca got the position of Head of the Logistics and Administration Department of Penitentiary 8 from Bender due to Demcenco’s assistance.
Among the nine delegates to the U.S. was Gheorghe Damir, head of the Vocational Training Section of the Panther Special Purpose Detachment of the National Administration of Penitentiaries. Gheorghe Damir is the brother of Dorin Damir, one of Vladimir Plahotniuc’s godsons.
Mihail Papca left the position held at Penitentiary 8 and got employed at the Chișinău Center Police Inspectorate, after Demcenco was tried in a misdemeanor case and the National Integrity Authority was investigating the conflict of interest admitted by Demcenco.
Although both positions required him to submit declarations of assets and personal interests, Mihai Papca didn’t submitted declarations of assets. Subsequently, the National Integrity Authority initiated a control procedure.
In a response to the ZdG’s request, the National Integrity Authority states that the control procedure is in progress and that a report has been drawn up on not submitting declarations of assets and personal interests.
National Integrity Authority Analyzes the Article Published by ZdG in June
ZdG requested the National Integrity Authority to provide information regarding Demcenco. We asked the institution to verify the official’s declarations of assets and interests data veracity and to inform us if the National Integrity Authority took action after ZdG published the article, proving that Demcenco lives in a luxury house in Chișinău, registered in the name of his mother, which he did not mention in the declarations of assets submitted in recent years.
The reply states that the National Integrity Authority analyzes the article published on the Ziarul de Gardă portal, www.zdg.md, in order to start a specialized control to verify the existence/ non-existence of substantial differences between income and assets on the subject concerned.
“We inform you that, in accordance with the provisions of Art. 32 (2) of Law 132/2016 on the National Integrity Authority, control of property and personal interests extends to the spouse, minor children, including adoptive parents or dependents of the subject of the declaration, but cannot be extended to the mother of the subject of the declaration except the case when the latter is in his/her maintenance.
At the same time, we specify that the published article can be examined in terms of committing the crime of illicit enrichment, which is within the competence of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office,” the institution stated.
ZdG will continue to monitor the results of possible controls initiated by the National Integrity Authority following our articles.
Contacted by phone, Demcenco refused to talk to the ZdG reporter. He hung up as soon as he found out who called. Contacted repeatedly, Demcenco warned the reporter that he will write a complaint.
“If you call me again, I will write a complaint, do you understand me? Did you understand or not? I told you, don’t call me anymore,” and he closed the call again.
A month earlier, Demcenco refused to talk to us when we came up to the house where he lives. Back then, he got into the car and drove away, refusing to talk to the ZdG reporter.