Corruption Allegations and Legal Battles: Chișinău Airport Concession Saga Unfolds

The Presidency denounces the decision to include President Maia Sandu among the witnesses in the Chișinău International Airport concession case, labelling it as a manifestation of systemic corruption.

Magistrates have today granted the request of the former Prime Minister Iurie Leancă's lawyer to summon all former Cabinet members, including current Prime Minister Dorin Recean, for questioning. When approached for comment, the Government's spokesperson, Daniel Vodă, declined to provide immediate remarks, stating that the decision would be reviewed thoroughly before any official statements are issued.

"It must be clarified that Maia Sandu did not vote in favour of the airport concession to AviaInvest, a fact she has reiterated numerous times - a matter easily substantiated by reviewing the government meeting's video recording. Furthermore, Maia Sandu advocated for sanctions against those who illicitly 'transferred' Chișinău Airport to the Șor group. The ongoing proceedings represent nothing more than a display orchestrated by corrupt individuals in an attempt to obfuscate the truth," wrote Adrian Băluțel, Chief of the President's Cabinet.

Asked to comment on the court's decision, Government spokesperson Daniel Vodă refrained from doing so, pledging that comprehensive analysis would precede any official statements.

The magistrates have also accepted the request to summon former members of the National Council for Public-Private Partnership as witnesses and allowed the inclusion of the government meeting's video recording as evidence in the case of airport concession approval.

Consequently, after a year, the preliminary hearing phase in this case concludes, marking the commencement of the judicial investigation stage on June 14.

Following the session, former Prime Minister Iurie Leancă expressed to the press that his former Executive colleagues must justify their votes in favour of the airport concession before the court. He remains hopeful that they will appear as witnesses voluntarily.

"It would serve as an act of civic responsibility, given their propagation of the notion that the concession was unlawful. They should come forth to elucidate their past voting decisions. Were they coerced, or perhaps, as Mr. Lazăr suggested, influenced by monetary incentives? I, for one, acted of my own volition," declared the former Prime Minister.

According to him, his government's decision to concession the airport was lawful.

"The concession was revoked not due to illegality, but because the concessionaire failed to fulfil their commitment to investment," Leancă asserted.

It is worth noting that the hearing for former ministers from Leancă's government was initially requested during a February meeting. At that time, Adrian Băluțel stated that Maia Sandu would not attend the hearings as she did not support the Chișinău International Airport concession. Dorin Recean, however, declared his willingness to appear in court if summoned.

According to the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, eight public figures and officials facilitated and executed the concession of the State Enterprise Chișinău International Airport in favour of criminal entities. Among them are former Prime Minister Iurie Leancă; former Minister of Economy, Valeriu Lazăr; former director of the Public Property Agency, Tudor Copaci; former deputy director of the Public Property Agency, Angela Susanu; former deputy chief of the Public Property Agency's department, Maria Șendilă; former interim general director of the State Enterprise Chișinău International Airport, Petru Jardan; former financial director of the State Enterprise Chișinău International Airport, Alexandru Ciutac; and the head of the economic analysis service of the State Enterprise Chișinău International Airport, Alla Țubari. They stand accused of inflicting a damage of 392 million lei upon the state through their illicit actions.

The accused have not admitted guilt, and the criminal case has been forwarded for substantive examination to the Chisinau District Court, Buiucani headquarters.

For the committed offence, the law stipulates imprisonment ranging from 3 to 8 years, along with the deprivation of the right to hold specific positions or engage in certain activities for a period of 10 to 15 years.

Furthermore, in pursuit of recovering the incurred damages, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, in collaboration with ARBI CNA, has imposed seizures on Avia Invest SRL's assets, including its share capital, as well as on the defendants' assets, both domestically and internationally, totaling approximately 189 million lei.

Chișinău International Airport was leased to Avia Invest in 2013 for a duration of 49 years. In 2020, authorities initiated the contract termination process, citing the concessionaire's failure to fulfil investment obligations.

In December 2023, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's decision regarding the contract termination.

Translation by Iurie Tataru

Carolina Străjescu

Carolina Străjescu


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