Government to take away #AirMoldova for promising it to Topa

| October 17, 2019

The authorities are struggling to take away the Air Moldova company from its owner. The mist is thickening around the Air Moldova company.  Pretty much every day, inspections run at the office of the company, documents are retrieved, staff is being questioned.  All that rocking the boat to extremes, making it incompatible with normal operation of a national air carrier with around one and a half million annual clientele.  Moreover, the National Anti-Corruption Center has arrested a part of the company’s assets.  There is no more doubt that Air Moldova has become target of a hybrid war aimed at nationalization and resale.  But who is running the war?  Who is behind that?  What is the goal?

Diagnosis – bankrupt

The national airline company was privatized a year ago, in October 2018.  The state did not find any other options to save Air Moldova from imminent bankruptcy.  As of March 30, 2018, Air Moldova registered losses in the amount of about 190 million lei.  In the same reporting period, company’s equity decreased by 81m lei.  By the beginning of 2018, the company’s debt constituted 1.2 billion lei.  And there was no chance for Air Moldova to recover this enormous debt.  The company’s debt in relation to its assets value constituted 110%!  In such a situation, the company could not even take a loan to liquidate the current debts.  Internal resources of the airline company were exhausted, as the state did not want, nor it could, invest in its development.  It is safe to say that of the two aircrafts, owned by “Air-Moldova”, one was out of order, a the other was coming close to the critical 25-years-of-operation limit.

The thunder cracked when the Moldovan Government received a notice from Eurocontrol on the possibility of holding up the flights.  Privatization became a forced step.

Romanians vs. Romanians

The Air-Moldova privatization deal triggered a political scandal back then.  The elections were coming close and for the opposition of the time, in the person of Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, it came as a matter for blaming the previous government for “non-transparency” of the air-company privatization process.  It is fair to say that, putting it lightly, there was no line standing for the right to take over a dead asset with huge debts in an unstable state.

The new owner of Air Moldova became a company that was directly related to the Romanian carrier Blu-air.  The leadership of the Romanian company visited Chisinau to tell about their plans for the development of Air Moldova.  It is worth noting that they managed to stabilize the situation and keep Air Moldova from bankruptcy, ensure continuity and safety of flights, improve passenger comfort.

Even at that time, there was plenty of questions, why, actually, Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, who identified themselves as genuine Romanians, oppose to Romanian investments coming to Moldova.  On second thought, as practice shows, when it comes to financial interests, such interests as national fatally fade into insignificance.

Nastase to takeoff

After the power shift in the country, Andrei Nastase became the Minister of Internal Affairs.  And, almost right off, his people started inspections at the Air-Moldova office.  There is every reason to believe that it is exactly Nastase standing behind the “battle” against the airline company.

It is common knowledge that the project of Andrei Nastase emerged courtesy of the businessmen Victor and Viorel Topa and lived out of their funding.  Victor and Viorel Topa are the owners of “Jurnal TV” channel, providing information support for the DA Platform of Andrei Nastase.  The businessmen have been living in Germany for long, where also the family of Andrei Nastase has settled.  In Moldova, they are involved in a criminal proceeding.  Andrei Nastase and Victor Topa are non-blood relatives.

Nastase’s kinship to Topa businessmen explains not only the presence, with a politician having no official income, of vast and diverse movable and immovable property, but also … keen interest of Nastase to the “Air-Moldova” company.

Victor Topa had already been its owner.  In 2000, the government of the Republic of Moldova suddenly gave away 49% of then quite profitable airline company to a German firm Unistar Vencuris, backed by Victor Topa.  There was no open competition, or any announcement in the press.  Everyone found out about the deal upon it closure.  A scandal erupted.  A special parliamentary commission was established.  Hearings were conducted.  The investigation showed that funding for the purchasing of half of the shares of Air Moldova were transferred from “Banca de Economii”, where one of the central figures at that time was Viorel Topa.  Notably, in April 2000, after Victor Topa entered into possession of the airline company, Andrei Nastase was named Deputy Director of “Air-Moldova”, being an employee of the transport prosecutor’s office at that time, though.  The very one that had to conduct the investigation of the doubtful transactions around Air Moldova.

In 2002, the communists who came to power cancelled the Air Moldova share sale deal.  Notably, the German company that brought the case against Moldova to the European Court of Justice, hired exactly Nastase as its representative at ECJ.

Steep turn

Hence, the situation becoming absolutely clear.  Nastase, having reached the top of power, starts to persistently, using instruments of power – from the staff of MIF and Anti-Corruption Center to the Special parliamentary Commission of Igor Munteanu, pressing for the bankruptcy of Air Moldova.  For the purpose of passing it over, dirt-cheap, to some other German  company, backed by Victor and Viorel Topa.

For the businessmen Topa, Andrei Nastase – is not a political, but an investment project.  And investments, sooner or later, must pay back and bring profit.

 

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