Corruption in 34 official letters

Corruption in 34 official letters
11 January 2009 | 11:38

Police, Prosecution and the Centre for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption – joint flagrant without evidence

For a couple of months now, Ziarul de Garda has been sending letters to official institutions, requesting information on the corruption cases presented in the press. Based on an AED project, we’ve also made up an envelope to join the “You can stop corruption” Campaign. Such envelopes are given to every citizen who wishes to send a letter to an editor or an authority, denouncing a corruption case. Such envelopes reach various ministers and state institutions every week, and inside them, there are requests of attitudes, details and comments on the presented cases. Here’s what the answers we’ve received for the past three months show us.

“Your request has been examined”- this is how one of the letters we’ve received every week from state institutions at the editorial office starts. This letter comes from the deputy minister of Home Affairs, Valentin Zubic, and refers to examining the data from the “Driving licenses issued for bribery” article, published on July 19th. This article tells about the institution from which drivers, who, for various reasons, failed to pass the driver’s legal examination, “purchase’ their driving licenses, and about the sum they pay for it. Concerning this topic, Zubic has informed us that “The MHA specialized entities are always conducting actions aimed at preventing and fighting corruption. On , MHA’s official website, there is the online hot line (anti-corruption) and reliable phone numbers of MIA’s specialized entities and territorial subdivisions”. Nothing on the given problem, nothing on the unskilled drivers who cause accidents affecting themselves and everyone else on the street, nothing on the “buying and selling” of driving licences.

The letter related to the same topic, received from the Minister of Informational Development (MID) seemed, initially, more encouraging. It stated that the respective article “was thoroughly discussed at the MID, more precisely at the Principal Directorate of Registration of Transportation Means and Driver’s Qualification, as well as by the Chisinau Office of Registration of Transportation Means and Driver’s Qualification staff”. However, the ending is disappointing to anyone aware of the magnitude and severity of this phenomenon: “The facts mentioned in the article have not been confirmed”, the Minister Pavel Buceatchi mentioned himself, adding that MID offers proper support to the legal entities involved in the process of control of the corruption facts pointed out in the article.

The General Prosecutor’s office, inquired on the same case, has informed us that, on August 7th, this subject was passed to the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. It has been about three months since we’ve published the article, and we still have no reply from the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

15 files on “unconfirmed facts’?

On the same day, concerning the same topic, we’ve received a letter from the Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption (CCECC). This is the first institution that confirmed the existence of the phenomenon. From the letter we’ve found out that, during 2005-2008, the CCECC has done research on 15 corruption cases of issuing driving licenses.
Due to the fact that, during three years, the MIA, MID and the Prosecutor’s Office have heard nothing of these cases, we present the details offered by the CCECC. “Ten legal cases were built for committing crimes of influence peddling by people who claimed that they had a certain influence on MID clerks, for making favours in issuing driving licenses. Two legal cases were opened on driving schools administrators for similar acts. At the same time, the CCECC has done research on two cases of committing crimes of passive corruption and one case on abuse of service committed by MID employees, for making favours in issuing driving licenses” is mentioned in the letter sent to the editorial office by CCECC director Sergiu Puscuta.
This document confirms that the sources of Ziarul de Garda are not the only ones stating that not everything is clean at some driving schools, at the MID and at the institution issuing the driving licenses. After all, the three institutions have equal changes and obligations to combat corruption, and all of them deserve to be believed – the ones stating that there are at least 15 identified cases and the one saying that “the facts have not been confirmed”. The difference between the official institutions’ conclusions is, however, even bigger in other cases.

On May 29th, Ziarul de Garda published the “Policemen outside the law”. This article covered a number of MIA employees requesting bribery from various persons. The Police, the Prosecutor’s Office and the CCECC have initiated a joint collaboration concerning these cases, which ended up with serious divergences.

Head of MIA’s Internal Security Department, Ion Berbinschi, has informed us through an official letter that “the co-workers of MIA, CCECC and Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office have detained in flagrant, at 10 Pm on May 25th 2007, in Drochia, the police employee Ed. I. Trestian, while he was requesting 200 USD from Drochia resident V. Ciornii”. The same letter also stated that the Anti-Corruption Prosecutors initiated a legal inquiry on this case.

Many in arrest, a few with evidence

The Prosecutor’s Office has also sent a letter about this case, but they told us that everything that took place during the flagrant operation, in the presence of the employees of the three institutions, lacked evidence. “It was concluded that the criminal pursuit of Eduard Trestian, suspected for extorting 250 US Dollars from citizen Ciornii, was legally ended by the Prosecutor’s Office in Drochia, due to insufficient pro-accusation evidence”.

The activity of the Anti-Corruption Prosecution seems to be just as meaningless in another case of bribery extortion by a police officer. “Resulting from a number of operative investigating measures, carried on jointly with the Anti-Corruption Prosecution, police employee V. Cravciuc was caught in a flagrant operation, on the 30.06.2007, around 19:00, in the city of Telenesti, at the moment of receiving 300 US Dollars from R. Iordache. The prosecutor’s office also initiated the criminal case”, informed us Ion Berbinschi, head of MIA’s Internal Security Department.

The head of the Prosecutor’s control of criminal pursuit department, Oleg Moruz, told us that this flagrant has not brought the corruption case to the expected ending. “The criminal cause of charging Victor Cravciuc, employee of the Telenesti Police Office, was sent with the indictment in court by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. By means of the sentence of the Telenesti Court, Victor Cravciuc was acquitted”.

During the period of June-August 2008, Ziarul de Garda has remitted over 100 letters to state institutions, requesting supplementary information on the corruption and intercession influence peddling cases, noticed by reporters and, implicitly, by the readers. In the case we are about to describe, the Prosecutor’s Office has either concealed or was not aware of a case of public information theft.

Has the data base of models of weapons been stolen?

A few months ago Ziarul de Garda published “The armourers are revolting” article. This article described the situation of the weapon sellers in Chisinau. Due to the non-transparent registration procedure the new weapons brought to Moldova, the registered weapon sellers say the taxes claimed are exaggerated, which has a direct impact on prices, while experts believe artificially increased prices are behind the trend of selling illegal arms at reasonable prices.

The General Prosecutor’s Office sent a letter assuring us that the problem is close to inexistent. That means that the Weapon Cadastre was made public on – the National Center for Approval of Weapons and Ammunition, however, this website no longer exists since February 12th 2007 (a year and a half ago). “At the time being, the function of managing the State Cadastre of weapons is carried out by the Technical Center for Industrial Security and Certification under the Minister of Economy and Trade”, “as works are being made on creating the new website where the respective list will be published”.

The Minister of Economy, the institution directly responsible for operating this cadastre, has described a gloomier situation, where, apparently, the urgent intervention of inquest bodies is needed.

Starting from 2002 and until 2007, this systemic list of models of arms was managed by Victor Cojocari – the person in charge of managing and updating the data, as well as the only owner of the electronic key. With the purpose of ensuring transparency of the information included in the State Cadastre of Weapons, the systemic lists were published on the official website of the National Center for Approval of Weapons and Ammunition, being updated periodically. When the Centre was dissolved, Victor Cojocari has withdrawn from the internet, on his own initiative, the information and the systemic lists of models of weapons, arguing that this information is his intellectual property”. The Minister of Economy has said nothing about the inquest of this case and about the creation of the new website the Prosecutor’s Office mentioned. The MIA only said that this matter is “out of their jurisdiction”.

Waiting for the internal inquiry, which will not be performed

The official opinions on another case of corruption, described in ” The City Hall paid 20 prices for the website” article, differ.

The deputy prosecutor of Chisinau, Vitalie Apostu, informed us that the 20 prices, requested and paid, were, in fact, a very favourable offer from a firm, no matter if it was anonymous or not.

“The work group chose the most favourable offer. The website was elaborated according to the contract’s stipulations. The ground for the prosecutor’s intervention with reactionary acts is missing”, the prosecutor informed us officially.

Oleg Rotaru, deputy minister of Informational Development, has also made us understand that the MID has nothing to do with this case, because “The transaction is to be examined according to the legislation on public acquisitions”. At the same time, the CCECC informed us about their concern on this case and that they will interfere as soon as MID takes the necessary measures. “We are waiting for the results of the internal service inquiry, which will inevitably be initiated by the MID. In case this inquest reveals the legislation violations, we will act”, Sergiu Puscuta wrote, without mentioning if he even addressed MID to find out that there is no internal inquest.

The CCECC, however, told us they knew one thing for sure: there is no knowledge of cases of politicians’ abuse in using service cars. Based on an article describing the abuses committed by members of the Parliament and the Government in using state cars, we have inquired more details from the official and concerned bodies. As we mentioned before, the CCECC knew nothing of these cases and, we quote from Mr. Puscasu’s letter: “The CCECC has not registered any cases of public clerks using the service cars for their personal interests”. We place at the readers’ disposal facts from the legislators themselves, stating that these cases exist. This is what was said in the letter sent by the Parliament’s Apparatus, showing that the cars are used for matters of personal interest, for the transportation of politicians at their home in the district centers, at least.

Parliament’s cars at politicians’ residences

Therefore, a reference is made in the letter to the Decision of the Permanent Office, dating April 5th 2005, based on which “The politicians with permanent residence outside Chisinau are provided weekly transportation to and from their residence, according to the list approved by the President of the Parliament”. It also mentions that “The list of weekly trips routes is made up according to the needs of legislators from all parliamentary parties”, while the politicians residing in Chisinau can also use the state cars for their personal interest, limited to “5 hours a month”.

Concerning the articles about the amounts offered by the Government to “Caravela culturii”, for which the documents supporting the expenses made have not been presented, the CCECC says they are waiting for a message from the Court of Accounts, while the Prosecutor’s Office has only analysed the mobile stage the Caravel’s artists perform on, which, due to its importance, costs maybe more than the paid amount: 160492 lei. Although the CCECC informed us that there was a collaboration agreement with the Court of Accounts, stipulating even the “creation of a council that examines the control materials and estimates the perspective of criminal procedures” on the analysed cases, this collaboration is probably limping in the Caravel’s case, because “the Court of Accounts has already conducted a control on this matter. Until this day, the concluding documents have not been received by the Center”, Sergiu Puscuta, Head of the CCECC, says.

The Prosecutor’s Office, on the other hand, assured us that this project is worth the moral support of prosecutors. “The cultural-artistic project “The Caravel of Culture” was approved by Government’s Decisions, with the purpose of bringing back to life cultural attendance in villages”, wrote Alexandru Nichita, deputy director of the financial-economic investigations department. “For this purpose, a team of artists was created, headed by Lenuta Burghila. The performance of these actions would have been impossible without a mobile stage”, adds Nichita, confirming that the price of 160492 for the mobile stage was absolutely justified.

By the nature of its letters, the General Prosecutor’s Office has shown its protective spirit not only in “bringing back to life cultural attendance” in villages, but also in the profound respect it holds for the rights of state politicians. Therefore, based on the Ziarul de Garda notice on the article “A knight of the Order of Honour requests a state apartment”, which talks about the request of an apartment from Veaceslav Iordan, head of the governmental Agency “Apele Moldovei”, prosecutor at the department of minors and human rights protection V. Solomon, has remitted the letter from our editor’s office to the higher court, with the remark: “When checking the inquiries of Mrs. Aneta Grosu, it shall be taken into account the responsibilities of the prosecutor concerning access to personal information, protected by the law”.

As for the other letters addressed to official institutions about the corruption cases described by the newspaper, we have been replied phrases similar to the ones from the letter regarding the article “A misplaced million”, and namely “There has been taken notice of the published information. The results will be communicated”. Or, we have not received a reply at all yet.

Published in Romanian on September 4th 2008

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