Dozens of judges from the Republic of Moldova received last year expensive gifts from parents, parents-in-law and relatives. Either it's about flats, houses or money, in some cases the value of the gifts amounts to thousands of lei. While magistrates say that donations are due exclusively to the generosity of relatives, anti-corruption experts warn us that in this way, some would try to legalize unreported goods.
20 thousand euros and the right to live in a luxury home
Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan, magistrate at the Botanica District Court Chisinau, is one of the judges who received generous gifts in 2017. His father-in-law, Victor Betza gave him 20,000 euros. Also, last year, the lawmaker received the right of habitation in a two-story building located on Lacului Street in the center of Chisinau and registered to the name of his father-in-law who does not officially own a business in Moldova. The house was purchased by Victor Betza in 2013 and at that time it had a one storey of 64,4 square meters and two special construction accessories of 40,8 and 12,9 square meters respectively. Two years later, in April 2015, Victor Betza addressed the Chisinau City Hall to obtain a building permit to extend the building. As his request was unanswered, in May 2015, when Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan already acted as a judge, his father-in-law sued for the right to extend his home. By a decision issued on June 22, Midrigan's colleague at the Botanica District Court Chisinau, Tatiana Avasiloaie ordered the Mayor of Chisinau to release a building permit to Victor Betza. Works are performed in the yard of the house on Lacului str. In his wealth statement, Midrigan indicated that the property would have an area of 336.2 square meters and would have a cadastral value of over one million lei. The judge also states that he and his wife, who work at the Oncological Institute, received 12,800 euros last year from a commercial property in the center of Chisinau, which was donated by his sister in 2014. The building is not the only donation from the magistrate’s sister. Thus, in 2014, she donated to spouses an apartment and a commercial property. Midrigan family also owns a Toyota Rav4 with personalized numbers: K MV, bought in 2013 for 420,000 MDL. Since 2012, the magistrate's wife has a Lexus RX 350, which then cost 900,000 MDL.
We tried to get a reaction from Vitalie-Silviu Midrigan, but he was on vacation. In a SMS, the judge told us that the beneficiary of the donations was his wife. "The building is unfinished. His father-in-law is a businessman in Russia. It is his house. We live temporarily", said the magistrate.
Donnations from the child’s christening party and apartment from mother
Family of Eugeniu Beselea, magistrate at the Chisinau District Court since March 2017, has completed his budget of 5,000 euros from donations from child’s christening party. Also, in 2017, the judge and his wife, who is a legal assistant at the Supreme Court of Justice, got an apartment of 47 square meters, with a cadastral value of 262,227 lei. The donation came from the judge's mother. In 2008, Eugeniu Beselea's wife received a seven-acres plot of land and an old house in the suburb of Chisinau, in Gratiesti. In 2016, the land was divided into two cadastral numbers, and currently the land and the construction are on sale.
Magistrate Alina Bragaru, Eugeniu Beselea’s colleague, obtained in 2017 the right to habitation in one half of a commercial property of 314 square meters, valued at 925,875 lei. It is the business office of the judge’s husband, Victor Patrascu, - Vatanservice Grup SRL. Alina Bragaru's husband owns 50% of the social capital of the company that carries out the maintenance and repair of motor vehicles, trade of auto parts and accessories, etc. The construction was owned by Victor Patrascu's business partner in 2010, and a year later was transferred to the company's name. The adjoining plot was donated to Patrascu in 2010, also being registered to the company's name a year later. Both the construction and the land are currently pledged for a loan amounting to 1,250,000 lei. Alina Bragaru's wealth statement also shows that in 2017 her husband bought a Fiat Bravo for 20,000 lei.
Judges with apartments and garages donated or with gratuitous use
Several judges from different courts in Moldova said in 2017 that they had gratuitous use of the apartments they live in. This is the case of Vasili Hrapacov from the Comrat District Court, who obtained a contract for free use of an apartment of 68 square meters with a cadastral value of almost 200,000 lei. He specified that this apartment is owned by his sister-in-law. The magistrate Olga Jamba from the Soroca Court received a generous donation in 2017 - an apartment of 45.4 square meters, valued at 41.804 lei. She pointed that it was a house where her parents-in-law lived before and was donated by them to her husband. The magistrate Rodica Costru of the Ungheni Court received a 110 square-meter house based on a donation contract free of charge. She added that she received the house after her father’s death.
Judge Sergiu Caraman currently works for Criuleni Court. He owns a house of 150 square meters with a cadastral value of 603.000 lei. According to the magistrate's wealth statement, this property is not included in any written legal document. He stressed that this is his wife’s parents house, where he currently lives. Also last year, the judge donated a car Opel to his brother, Gheorghe Caraman, and instead received two generous donations - 1,800 euros from his mother, Liubovi Caraman, and 100,000 from his mother-in-law Veronica Ivanov.
Elena Grumeza, judge at the Balti Court of Appeal received by donation a garage of 34 square meters, valued at 53,000 lei. Also last year, the magistrate bought a car Toyota Auris for 20,000 lei.
Inheritors of apartments and dwelling houses
Except the magistrates who received donations last year, some of them made fortunes from inherited dwelling house. Thus, judge Oleg Sternioala from the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) inherited last year an apartment, a garage and a building where he owns shares. It is about the property in Floresti owned by his father who has recently died. Though he has not reported any property in previous years, the magistrate lives in a luxury house, worth over seven million lei at market price. The building is registered to the magistrate’s parents who have lived all their life in Floresti. In 2016, Sternioala included the luxury house in the wealth declaration, but as a share in inheritance. In 2018, the CSJ judge came into possession of a Skoda Superb car.
Mihail Macar, magistrate at Hancesti Court has inherited last year a built-up area, a 96.3 square meter dwelling house and three constructions of 17, 76 and 36 square meters respectively. The total value of the buildings amounts to about 374,000 lei. Aurelia Toderas of the Balti Court of Appeals inherited from her parents in 2017 half of a house and half of a construction. The buildings have 150 and 9.5 square meters respectively. Judge Andrei Mironov from the Cahul Court inherited in 2017 a house and a plot in Belarus. Shortly after, he sold them.
Donation of thousands of euros, house and apartment at preferential price
Last year was a rich one for Victoria Railean from Causeni Court. In April 2017, she inherited half of his 111-square-meter home of her parents, located in the village of Todiresti, Anenii Noi district. The other half of the house was registered to her mother’s name, Ala Nigai. A month later, Ala Nigai donated to her daughter the other half house. Also, Railean received an apartment of 67.4 square meters, located in the block for judges on Ceucari Street and purchased it at a preferential price. Also in 2017, the magistrate's mother made a donation of 3,000 euros. With this money Victoria Railean bought some of his cars. According to the wealth declaration, the judge's "car park" was completed with four cars in 2017: a Mercedes Sprinter in 2005, for 76,300 lei, a ZIL 130, made in 1988, for 17,300 lei, an agricultural vehicle IUMZ-6, made in 1983, for 21,100 lei and a T-40 agricultural vehicle, 1987, for 14,000 lei. Last year, the judge contracted a loan of 150,000 lei, which she has to repay by 2019 at an interest rate of 21%.
Transactions of judges Malanciuc
Ion Malanciuc, magistrate at the Criuleni Court, inherited in 2017, after his father's death, a bank deposit of over 414,000 lei, a Kia model car, worth 88,200 lei, a built up area and unincorporated area, and one-third of an apartment located in the town of Ungheni. In April 2017, the judge sold his shares in the house from Ungheni to his mother, Maria Malanciuc, magistrate at the Ungheni District Court. Also, in 2017, Ion Malanciuc sold an apartment in the Botanica District of Chisinau, and earned 2,300 euros from rent of another apartment located on Korolenko str. The two judges, mother and son, bought together an apartment of 133 square meters for which they paid 907,000 lei and a garage of 21 square meters for 124,000 lei.
Donations of thousands of euros from weddings and christening parties
The wealth statements submitted by several judges reveal a good income source is family events. Several magistrates from the Chisinau District Court benefited last year from thousands of euros and thousands of lei following ceremonies they organized. The luckiest one was Gheorghe Stratulat, who, after a civil event, gathered 48,000 euros. With some of this money, the judge bought a new Toyota Rav4, for 452,000 MDL. Stratulat also bought two Ford Transit trucks with 92,000 and 84,500 lei respectively, and a Volkswagen Caddy with 91,000 lei. His colleague, Nicolae Corcea, won at the wedding 30,000 euros, 9,500 dollars and 125,000 lei. Last year, the judge bought a Toyota Prius model for which he paid 80,000 lei. Magistrate Corina Ursachi collected 42,025 euros after family events, with the help of relatives and friends. In 2017, she bought a commercial space of 35.4 square meters for 446.000 lei, as well as three cars, an Audi A6, made in 2013, for which she would have paid 15.000 lei (!), a Mercedes Viano , made in 2012, for 80,000 lei and a Mercedes E250, made in 2013, for 420,000 lei. Previously, she received three apartments and three commercial properties as donation. This was revealed by reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism in an investigation published in September, 2015.
Constantin Rosca, who has raised "only" 34,000 euros from wedding donations, had a more modest income. The magistrate bought a room of 15 square meters for 94,600 lei, and he took possession of another one, of 6,3 square meters. The judge Taisia Prutean gained at the wedding almost the same amount of money-34,350 euros. Last year, her husband won a Hyundai Santa Fe, made in 2013, for 450,000 lei. Magistrate Mihai Murguleţ received at the wedding donations of 23,000 euros, 3,000 dollars and 18,000 lei. Smaller sums were donated to Murgulet's wife. Judge Tatiana Sîrcu gained 16,000 euros at the child christening party. With some of that money, the magistrate bought a Renault, made in 2014, for which she paid 11,000 euros. Another magistrate Natalia Mamaliga gained 3,150 euros and 58,000 lei at the baby christening party. Another 160,000 lei was donated by her father-in-law, Vasili Mamaliga. Last year, the judge obtained the right to own two plots. Also in 2017, Mamaliga became the owner of an apartment of 70 square meters which she obtained at a preferential price in the Ceucari street in the block for judges. But it was sold two weeks after it was registered to the name of the magistrate and her husband. Ghenadie Pavliuc, the judge who saved from prison the ex-deputy Valeriu Guma, sentenced to four years in prison in Romania, gained last year 6,500 euros and 87,000 lei from her daughter’s christening party. The magistrate's mother in law, Nina Cordulean donated 30,000 MDL to the family. In 2017, the judge came into possession of an apartment in the Ceucari Street, in the block for judges who needed to improve their living conditions. This in spite of the fact that Pavliuc owns two other houses - one in the Ciocana sector of Chisinau and another in Donduşeni, which was donated in 2014. Also, last year the magistrate bought a parking space for 6,000 euros and a Toyota Rav4, made 3 years earlier for about 386,000 lei.
Magistrate Rodica Berdilo reported gifts worth 21,000 lei from her birthday and birthday parties of family members. Also, in 2017 the judge came into the possession of a 71-square-meter apartment on Ceucari Street. Ghenadie Tocaiuc became a judge at the end of January this year, former prosecutor, gained in 2017 donations estimated at 200,000 lei from the child’s christening party. Another 3,000 euros were donated by his father, Nicolae Tocaiuc, and an agricultural land in Glodeni district was donated to him by his uncle, Iuri Tocaiuc. With some of this money, the judge bought in 2017 a BMW E60, which cost him officially only 30,000 MDL. Also, judge Maria Frunze received a modest amount of only 5,000 lei at her birthday.
Thousands of euros and lei from children, parents and parents-in-law
The year 2017 was a good one several magistrates from the Chisinau Court. For example, Mariana Fondos-Fraţman received a donation of 400,000 lei from her mother-in-law, Liubovi Fraţman. With some of this money, she bought three agricultural plots, a 97-square-meter apartment valued at just over half a million lei, and a Dacia Logan made in 2012. Veaceslav Martinenco also benefited from substantial donations, totaling $ 16,000. The money was offered to him by his father-in-law. Dragos Crigan received a generous donation of 200,000 lei last year from his parents, Maria and Boris Crigan. The latter is a former prosecutor. He bought a Skoda Superb car for which he paid 650,000. The magistrate used to receive substantial donations before. For example, in 2016, his mother "helped him" with 300,000 lei. Judge Marcel Gandrabur received 8,000 euros from donations. Hiss parents-in-law and brother-in-law donated him money. The magistrate Ion Chirtoaca was "sponsored" last year by his mother with 4,800 euros, who worked in Italy. Victoria Hadirca has generous parents - at the family events organized last year, she gained gifts of 5,700 euros. Corneliu Guzun claims to have received a donation of 8,342 euros from his mother-in-law last year. She also offered cash gifts to the magistrate's family in previous years. Andrei Ojoga obtained donations in 2017 - 2,000 euros from his mother, Natalia Ojoga and 25,519 lei from his parents-in law Petru and Varvara Ceban. Together with his wife, Mariana Ojoga, legal assistant, the magistrate came into the possession of two apartments in Ceucari Street last year. An apartment of 40.9 square meters was donated to the judge's mother-in-law, while the Ojoga couple kept another apartment of 54.8 square meters for them. Sergiu Daguta received 4,000 euros from Tatiana Daguza. Also last year, the magistrate came into possession of a 66-square-meter apartment in Ceucari Street, built for judges who do not have housing.
Elena Cobzac from the Supreme Court of Justice received from her daughters working abroad 7.000 dollars and 1.000 euros. In 2018 the judge came into possession of an apartment of 75,6 square meters. Anatol Pahopol from the Court of Appeal Chisinau inherited 3.700 dollars from his daughter, who died in March 2017. Pahopol’s colleague from the Court of Appeal, Vladislav Clima, received last year a donation of 10.000 euro from his father, Nicolae Clima. The magistrate used this money to buy a new car Volkswagen Passat for 20.000 euro.
Transfers and remittances of thousands of euros
Another income source for judges is the remittances and transfers from abroad. The biggest money transfer of 17.500 euros from Austria reached the accounts of Nicolae Pasecinic from the Court Chisinau. The former lawyer of the Democratic Party, magistrate Sergiu Bularu, received a sum of 11.300 euros from Tamara Burlacu. The man has previously benefited from generous transfers from abroad. With a part of this money, the judge bought a car Audi, 2005, for 120.000 MDL. Dumitru Mardari, magistrate at the Supreme Court of Justice received a transfer of 7.550 euro from Russia, and the beneficiary of the sum, according to the judge, is his sister Tamara Brinza. Judge Victoria Sîrbu from the Court of Appeal Chisinau received a money transfer of 4.500 euros from a second degree relative. Svetlana Ghercavii from the Balti Court benefited from a transfer of 321.000 roubles from the Russian Federation from her mother Maria Colotova. 15.000 rubles were transferred in 2017 to the magistrate Eduard Galușceac from the Chisinau Court. Together with his wife, main consultant at the Supreme Court of Justice, Galusceac came into the possession of an apartment of 75 square meters in the block on Romana str. with apartments at preferential prices for judges. The apartment was sold in the same year.
Alexandr Guleaev transferred 3.100 dollars and 1.000 euros to the magistrate Viorica Mihaila from the Court of Appeal Chisinau. It is not for the first time that she raises generous sums of money sent from abroad. Judge Vasilisa Muntean also received last year money from abroad - 65,000 rubles from her father. He also made a donation of 2,000 euros to the magistrate's child. 6,670 euros were transferred to Svetlana Tizu by Lidia Gindac. With some of this money, the judge bought a Renault Kangoo, for $ 50,000. Stella Blesceaga received 4,000 euros from her sister in France. She also received generous transfers in previous years. Vitalie Gutan from the Chisinau Court received 2,400 euros and 4,000 lei as remittances from several relatives settled abroad. Last year, the magistrate received an apartment on Ceucari str. in the block for judges, and bought a car for 3,600 euros. Irina Ţonov from Causeni Court received remittances from her husband in the amount of 1,850 euros, while her colleague from Hancesti, Valentina Suruceanu, received a transfer of 145 euros from her brother. In 2017, the magistrate bought a Toyota Auris with 7,500 euros.
Thousands of lei for the judges of the First Instance Court and of the Court of Appeal
The magistrate Nadejda Mazur from Chisinau Court inherited 23.000 lei from her father. Last year, she came into possession of an apartment in the block for judges on str. Ceucari. Veronica Jomiru-Niculita’s father and her father in law gifted her 20.000 lei each. Last year, the magistrate bought a Volvo XC60, for 17.000 euros. Denis Babalau, from Chisinau Court received in 2017 donations worth 65.000 lei from his father, Gheorghe Babalau and from a relative of his wife, while Ghenadie Plămădeală received 25.700 lei from Lidia Berdan. A sum of 3.000 euros was donated to Iraida Secrieru by Vitalie Mîrzac. Last year, the judge came into the possession of an apartment in a block for judges on Romana str.in Chisinau.
Vitalie Cotorobai, from the Court of Appeal received 400 euros and 200 dollars from one of his relatives and Iurie Iordan – 10.000 lei from his mother, Elena Iordan. Last year, Iordan came into possession of a half 210-square-meter house and half of 21-square-meter building. Also in 2017, the magistrate bought a Toyota Corola with 98,000 lei. In the past years, Iurie Iordan has also benefited from donations - an apartment registered to his wife’s name and money transfers from his mother. Natalia Berbec from Hancesti Court received a donation of 2,000 euros from her father.
Magistrates from courts in Moldova received generous donations
Year 2017 was also rich for some magistrates in the country's courts. Thus, Valeriu Hudoba from the Comrat Court received a donation of 200,000 lei last year from his mother, Terzi Parascovia,pensioner. In 2017, the magistrate bought several plots of land, commercial properties and a 57-square-meter dwelling house for which he would have paid only 50,000 lei. His colleague, Ion Cojocari, received aassistance of 1,380 euros from Galina and Anatolie Scerbacov and from Eugen Gîrlea. Vladimir Craveţ from the Drochia Court received in 2017 donations in the amount of 50,000 lei from Vera Şciur. Parents and mother-in-law of the magistrate Vadim Belous of the Soroca Court paid the education fee and the maintenance of his child, spending 30,000 lei for this purpose. Like many of his colleagues, this judge has also benefited in the past from "financial aid". In 2017, Belous officially came into the possession of two 150-square and 58-square-meter dwellings and constructions. Ludmila Iarmaliuc from Orhei Court received from her brother Teodor Iarmaliuc, a donation of 1,091 euros, while his colleague, Iurie Movila, was helped with a sum of 5,000 euros by Grigore Gheorghelas. Liudmila Bronici donated 5,000 Euros to Sergiu Osoianu from the Straseni Court. His colleague, Ala Ukrainteva, benefited from 28,530 lei from Olga Rusu. With some of this money, Ukrainteva bought a car Toyota Yaris model. Constantin Cretu of Hincesti Court received about 107,000 lei from his relatives Clavdia Cojuharenco and Vera Cretu. Last year, the magistrate bought an Opel Antara, made in 2008, for which he would have paid only 10,000 lei.
Anatolie Rusu from the Ungheni Court received 500 euros from Elena Blandu and another 1,575 euros from Nadejda Pascari. Also, in 2018 Rusu benefited from the right of use a Volkswagen model car. Anatolie Rusu’s colleague, Mihail Ulinici, received a transfer from Ulinici Ion in the amount of 1,500 euros and a donation of 120,000 lei from his mother-in-law Lidia Manole. Last year, the magistrate came into possession of half 70-square-meter apartment. Mihail Ceban made a donation amounted at 30,000 MDL to Ion Naşco's family from the Causeni Court. This money supplemented the sum needed to buy a Skoda Superb in 2018, for which the magistrate paid 200,000 lei. Naşco's colleague, Ana Costiuc benefited from donations last year - 500 euros from Elena Hachi and 12,000 lei from her mother-in-law Tatiana Captalan. Dan Dubcoveţchi from Causeni Court, received donations in 2017 - 900 euros, from Victor and Vera Panfil. With this money, the judge bought a Nissan Micra, made in 2005, for which he paid 10,000 MDL.
Expert: "There is a risk of legalizing previously undeclared properties, owned by the declarant"
Mariana Kalughin, expert at the Center for the Analysis and Prevention of Corruption (CAPC), believes that donations as such raise some questions about the correctness of the person's statement on income and property, because every time the question arises whether it is an attempt to hide some properties and denying that the properties were owned by them from the start. "Obviously we can not generalize. CNI (National Commission for Integrity), when it was active, did not have any levers to do so, and the National Integrity Authority (ANI), although it should have been active, it does not work for more than a year and half. That is why, we have to see, when ANI becomes operational, after integrity inspectors are hired, how the control is performed and to what extent integrity inspectors will be able to investigate each case individually so as to convince them that these donations really happened and were not indicated in statements just to hide the nature of the good, " says the expert. Integrity inspectors have more investigating levers than the CNI collaborators, she says.
"In many cases, however, it will depend on collaboration with other structures and there may be problems. Because if it is about a donation made on behalf of a relative or parents, possibly retired, who cannot have such income, in such cases it is precisely the tax body, which at CNI's request had to check whether that person has not somehow violated the tax regime, if all the payments were paid. This is not the case, and statistics show that actually all those notifications made by CNI to the tax authorities to start a tax audit are unanswered and no control has been completed. The biggest problem, though, is that ANI is not active for one and a half year. Meanwhile, generous donations may appear in the officials' statements in the hope of the declarants that these things will never be verified. There is a great risk of legalizing goods included in the civil circuit", concluded Mariana Kalughin.
This investigation has been produced as part of the “Journalists for Integrity in Public Service” campaign, carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism with the support of the Good Governance Program of Soros Foundation Moldova. The donor does not influence the topic or content of the published investigations.