Officials of the National Agency for Food Safety, detained for allegedly taking bribes for issuing documents needed to export goods to the EU, Ukraine and Russia
Three employees of the Chisinau Territorial Directorate for Food Safety were detained for 72 hours and questioned by prosecutors and officers of the National Anti-Corruption Centre (CNA), following searches carried out on August 9, at their homes and cars, in their offices, as well as in the single office for issuing permits within the Directorate. The officials are targeted in several criminal cases of passive and active corruption.
They are suspected of issuing, in exchange for bribes, phytosanitary certificates required for the export and re-export of goods to the European Union, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
“According to the indictment, in the period 2017-2021 inclusive, employees of the Chisinau Municipal Directorate for Food Safety of the National Agency for Food Safety (ANSA) allegedly systematically collected sums of money, in the form of bribes, from economic agents for urgently obtaining phytosanitary certificates and other permissive and quality documents, without the goods intended for export being subject to detailed control. The officials allegedly issued certificates for various categories of goods, such as fruit, vegetables, cereals, wooden packaging, etc., with irregularities,” the CNA statement said.
In one of the cases documented by the CNA, several economic agents specialised in the production of wooden pallets and packaging allegedly offered “undue” money to ANSA inspectors so that they could issue phytosanitary certificates required for export, without checking whether or not the pallets had been heat-treated, which was a condition that had to be met for the goods to be transported abroad, the CNA said.
As part of the special investigative measures, it was established that the documents were issued to traders in the absence of wood processing equipment, and for each batch of pallets exported, they would have passed on to officials a percentage of the cost of the goods.
“During the investigation of the systemic corruption scheme, dozens of episodes of issuing phytosanitary certificates against bribes with the involvement of ANSA officials were found. CNA officers have documented several transmissions in the amount of about 20,000 lei to officials, but the real amount, which went outside the official circuit, could be several times higher and is to be established in the investigation,” the statement added.
Anti-corruption prosecutors are leading the criminal prosecution, which is being carried out in nine cases, which are based on passive and active corruption.
National legislation provides for up to 10 years’ imprisonment for these offences, a criminal fine and deprivation of the right to hold public office.