The disastrous situation in which Moldovagaz currently finds itself is largely due to fraudulent administration, with the tacit knowledge and agreement of the shareholders, especially of the majority shareholder Gazprom. This was aggravated by the abusive conditions imposed by Gazprom when signing gas delivery and transit contracts. Additionally, ANRE, the government and Parliament took illegal and reckless decisions that severely damaged the assets of the company. This and other conclusions can be found in the Report on the activity of JSC "Moldovagaz" and on the schemes of consumer fraud over the course of the last 20 years, presented by the community for advocacy and public policies "WatchDog.MD" in a public event.
The "WatchDog" expert and coauthor of the study, Sergiu Tofilat, claims that the natural gas industry has been dominated by the corrupt interests of the political elites, starting from the first years of Moldova's independence. Taking advantage of the "weakness" of the political decision-makers from Chișinău, the Gazprom concern took over, at a ridiculously low price, the majority of shares of the gas transport and distribution infrastructure. According to Sergiu Tofilat, the most serious violations were committed, namely, in the privatization of the transport networks in 1995 and in the privatization of the distribution pipelines in 1998, by transmitting the majority of shares to Gazprom for the payment of gas debts.
Although Moldovagaz holds a monopoly in the natural gas sector, the company is in bankruptcy, meaning that the debts exceed several times the value of its assets. The main cause, according to Sergiu Tofilat, is the contractual scheme by which the supplier from the Republic of Moldova provides gas to the Transnistrian region without receiving payment in return. As a result, Moldovagaz continues to accumulate huge debts to the Gazprom concern, which exceeds $7 billion at the current date. This contractual scheme for gas delivery is used by Gazprom to legally finance the separatist authorities on the left bank of the Dniester.
According to the Report, the maladministration of the Moldovagaz company is another factor that influences the unjustified increase of the gas tariffs and the increase of the debt towards Gazprom. All the violations detected as a result of checks carried out by the Court of Accounts or by ANRE have not resulted in the sanctioning of the Moldovagaz decision-makers. On the contrary, the persons who performed the audit and the checks were persecuted.
The expert says that maladministration of Moldovagaz, with the tacit acceptance of the shareholders and of the investigation bodies, led to the unjustified increase of expenses and the deterioration of the enterprise's assets. On the one hand, some of these unjustified expenses were included by ANRE in the gas tariffs, while on the other hand, these expenses led to the increase of Gazprom owned debt.
In order to solve the issues related to the tariff calculation and the administration of the company, "Watch Dog" recommends the identification of unjustified expenses that were abusively included in the gas tariffs or led to the increase of the Gazprom owned debt. The unjustified expenses should be excluded from the tariff, while the rest of the expenses should be assumed by the shareholders who tolerated violations throughout the activity of Moldovagaz. Additionally, the experts recommend to carry out an audit at this company in order to determine the justified costs, to determine the cost of fraud and the actual value of the tariff deviations.
Currently, the entire gas delivery infrastructure, except for the Iași-Ungheni interconnector, is managed by the Moldo-Russian enterprise Moldovagaz. The main shareholder of the company is the Russian concern Gazprom, which owns 50% + 1 shares and manages the 13.4% of shares that belong to the Transnistrian region. The government of Moldova holds the blocking package of 35.5% of Moldovagaz shares, while another 1.3% belongs to natural persons.