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Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office’s refusal to start criminal over National Hotel challenged in court

The first hearing in the case of National Hotel in central Chisinau, which was set for August 28, was put off for a month. Sergiu Tofilat, deputy chairman of the Party of Change, filed a lawsuit. He said the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office refused to institute criminal proceedings and this decision was challenged in court. Sergiu Tofilat developed the issue in Lilia Burakovski’s program “Freedom Territory” on Rlive TV channel.

“We sued the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office because we disagree with their decision to drop the case concerning National Hotel. More than enough proofs and documents were collected and these show that employees of the Chisinau City Hall acted in the interests of Vladimir Andronachi and Ilan Shor to help them get a lot of 1.2 hectares in central Chisinau, next to National Hotel, the restaurant, and the complex is to be demolished. What happened should be considered a component part of a money laundering scheme as they planned to erect another construction there, on an area of 128,000 square meters, for which one needs about €60-70 million. I wonder where the money comes from. The prosecutor didn’t inquire about this. Our request was rejected twice. I had to go to court to show that an offense was committed and that all the required measures must be taken as the City Hall’s illegal acts should not remain unpunished,” stated Sergiu Tofilat.

He noted that the first suspicions about the privatization and the illegality of the decision to demolish National Hotel appeared in a public meeting staged by the City Hall.

“The public hearings on National Hotel centered on a cadastral number, not on the Hotel itself. Nothing was said about the demolition or the absence of the demolition intention,” stated development expert Roman Guniavyi, who attended those hearings. He noted that the City Hall didn’t expect that namely this machinery will generate the greatest opposition in society.

According to Tofilat, the deputy mayor’s order concerning the hearings of May 2021 shows that particular steps were taken to camouflage the offense and public vigilance helped them realize the stake and understand why the cadastral number was indicated instead of the building’s address.

“Andronachi and a group of people who helped him, including employees of the City Hall, wanted to illegally obtain that lot in central Chisinau. The market value of 100 square meters varies between €50,000 and €100,000. Instead of selling the lot at this price and of collecting at least €6 million in the City Hall’s budget, the Municipal Council in January 2019 leased this out (before the parliamentary elections). If a huge building is erected on the rented lot, the City Hall loses the chance of getting the lot back. The rental decision was yet annulled by the Supreme Court of Justice in September 2020. It turned out that one of the parcels belonged not to the City Hall, but to the Public Property Agency. In the same decision, the SCJ indicated that the other part of this large lot is municipal property that can be sold at an auction,” said Tofilat, noting that despite the SCJ’s decision, employees of the City Hall continued to take action and to sign documents in favor of Andronachi.

“In March 2021, in a meeting of the local council, general architect Svetlana Dogotaru presented a project to demolish National Hotel and to build a large complex on that area. It happened at a time when the commission members hadn’t been informed about the annulment of the rental decision,” stated Tofilat.

The Public Property Agency is one of the parties involved in this case.

“The National Hotel case requires special attention for counteracting the committed wrongdoings. I tried to do this while forming part of the municipal council. Now, as the head of the PPA, I spoke about the necessity of constituting a working group for launching an internal inquiry into the committed violations. We will be making every effort to provide all the responsible authorities with the obtained information,” said the director of the Public Property Agency Roman Cojuhari.

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