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Robbery of millions at the Ministry of Finance
In May 1999, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova adopted the law on the restructuring of agricultural enterprises to be privatized. To start the mechanism in that process, the Government set up, three months later, a republican commission on the assignment of debts of agricultural enterprises to oil product suppliers. The commission had to identify the economic agents who had supplied the enterprises with oil products for agricultural works. At that moment, the commission secretary, Ianoş Chiperi, main specialist at the Ministry of Finance (MF), became aware that he could take advantage of his position and put into action a devilish plan.
Together with some heads of firms he knew, Chiperi made a high number of fraudulent operations by falsifying MF acts and signatures of persons from the ministry’s administration, depriving the state of over MDL 4,500,000.
First round – a success
At the beginning, Chiperi studied in detail how the agricultural enterprises were identified and the necessary conditions for the assignment of the debts of agricultural economic agents to oil product suppliers as well as how the state was to reimburse the latter the cost of a number of customs duties and taxes for the import of oil products. Later, the head of the tax payer and income registration division of the Main Tax Inspectorate confirmed that in October-November 2001, Ianoş Chiperi inquired about how the orders for the liquidation of historical debts had to be filled out and who verified the correctness of return of payments by customs authorities.
According to the head of MF Chancery, Maria Şatohina, the secretary of the republican commission, Ianoş Chiperi, used to come to the chancery many times with various documents on which he put the MF stamp. His actions did not arouse doubts since he was holding a responsible position and had the right to put the ministry’s stamp or to request ministry letterheads.
But Chiperi was pursuing other goals. Along with Mihălina Carpenco, employee of Lăpuşna Tax Inspectorate at that time, he set up an operation aimed at misappropriating public money, which started out in October 2001. Initially Chiperi took a piece of paper with the MF stamp on it from the MF Chancery, which he handed over to Mihălina Carpenco. At the end of the month, after the republican commission decided on the assignment by the state of the historical debts of the enterprise „Avangard-Agro” to its diesel oil suppliers, Carpenco and an accomplice falsified, by drawing up a fictitious document, the MF Order no. 3.753 on the compensation of mutual obligations of the state and oil importing enterprise. Instead of the company which had provided diesel oil to the enterprise “Avangard-Agro”, the two introduced another one - „IVIR” SRL, headed by Ivan Ivasişin, a Carpenco’s relative, although it had never supplied “Avangard-Agro” with oil products. The respective order was computer processed and printed on the stamped piece of paper taken by Chiperi from the ministry. According to the order, the public budget was to reimburse the company „IVIR” SRL debts in the amount of MDL 934,358, as follows: for VAT on import – MDL 460,204; diesel oil excise duties – MDL 474,154. This amount was to be returned to SRL „IVIR” by the customs authorities upon presentation of the debt reimbursement order. In order for the Order no. 3.753 to be valid, it had to be also signed by the Deputy Minister of Finance, Elvira Lupan. But this was not an obstacle for the two. With the help of an electronic technology specialist, Elvira Lupan’s signature was transferred from a MF document which she had signed, directly onto the payment order based on which the state compensated money was to be collected. At the end of the same month, SRL „IVIR” presented the falsified document, which was no different from the original ones, to Leuşeni Customs Office wherefrom it collected the amount of MDL 934,358.
The first operation was successful. Happy with their success, the group of offenders decided to continue their “business”. Thus, Chiperi was regularly providing his accomplices with all the information about the decisions of the debt assignment commission, although they had to be kept strictly secrete.
“Business” among relatives
Before the beginning of November, Carpenco came up with another fictitious order. This time – for the compensation of debts of the agricultural enterprise „La Harmane”. The same company – „IVIR” SRL was registered as oil product supplier. The same procedure was followed: Chiperi purloined a sheet of paper with the MF stamp, the ministry’s letterhead and Elvirei Lupan’s signature were computer copied, and the company „IVIR” SRL enriched itself with MDL 948.080 more. The state paid back that amount for the compensation of debts of the agricultural enterprise „La Harmane” to “IVIR” SRL, although, as its representatives later said, the enterprise had never bought oil products from „IVIR” SRL.
Using the same tricks, during November-December, Chiperi, Carpenco and their accomplices falsified four more orders on the reimbursement of debts of agricultural enterprise creditors. Thus, there were falsified orders of the enterprises CAP „Spicul Auriu”, „Agroluric”, CAP „Suvorov” and SA „Budeiscoe”. As oil product suppliers there were selected the companies „DANION” SRL and „RIA-Petrol” SRL. These two were headed by Alexandru Musteaţă and Daniel Atanasov, both relatives of Mihălina Carpenco.
As in the case of „IVIR” SRL, the respective companies had never supplied oil products to the four agricultural enterprises. But, as a result of the fictitious MF orders, which contained the institution’s stamp and the signature of deputy minister Elvira Lupan, the state “presented” MDL 2,660,000 to the respective agents. As a result of the machinations operated by the commission secretary Ianoş Chiperi and Mihălina Carpenco, the state was deprived of over MDL 4,500,000.
Yes and no
We have recently found out that the General Prosecutor’s Office initiated a criminal lawsuit on this case two months ago. During the investigations, Ianoş Chiperi acknowledged his actions but Mihălina Carpenco denied her involvement in the doubtful affair. Anyway, she does not work for the Hânceşti Tax Inspectorate any more.
If the two are found guilty of the incriminated violations, they could be punished with imprisonment from two to five years. Although we tried to get in touch with Chiperi by telephone, he did not wish to speak with us.
From the MF we found out that Ianoş Chiperi resigned in January of this year. At the ministry nobody knows where Chiperi could be now. But some think it is regrettable that a ministry officer was involved in misappropriation of funds.
We did not manage to speak with the deputy minister Elvira Lupan since she was gone on a business trip abroad, and at the general division for national economy funds where Chiperi used to work, the head of the division Vera Slopac categorically refused to talk about this case and her former employee. And this is despite the fact that we quoted legislative provisions as an argument that we had the right to ask her opinion. Vera Slopac recommended that we look for answers at the prosecutor’s office or wait until the law says its word. Due to the silence at the MF, we did not manage to find out if after this serious case of fund misappropriation, additional protection measures had been undertaken not to admit its reoccurrence. One thing is sure: MF employees keep their mouths shut, since none of them, when contacted, agreed to speak with the press.
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