Documents obtained by RISE from Italy, Cyprus and Romania reveal that Minister of Transport Iurie Chirinciuc controls Cavio, an Italian furniture holding company, via a close family associate. Another set of documents shows how people who represented Chirinciuc’s interests were appointed deputy ministers in his ministry.

The Italian company Cavio SRL sells luxury furniture on three continents. Its major factory is located in the province of Verona in Italy. Cavio owns two commercial outlets in Italy, one in Moldova and six in Ukraine. Its furniture is sold in more than 30 countries through official dealers and permanent retailers.

Through various affiliated companies and intermediaries in Moldova, Cavio has registered several brands of furniture, including “Benvenuti a casa,” “Hedoniq” and “CAVIO Interiors.”

Documents obtained by Rise Moldova from the Italian business registry show that Cavio Ltd., based in Verona, was founded in 2009.

Its director and sole shareholder is Ruslan Vornicu, the “wedding godson” of Iurie Chirinciuc, Moldova’s current Minister of Transport and Road Infrastructure (MTRI). In Moldovan wedding tradition, “wedding godparents” serve as sponsors for the newlyweds, guiding the couple in Orthodox Christian traditions and often helping to organize and pay for the marriage ceremony. In 2014, Cavio had revenues of more than € 2 million.

Chirinciuc is not listed in the Italian registry, but admits that he owns 50 percent of Cavio. He asked RISE Moldova not to disclose this publicly because it might hurt his business.

Iurie Chirinciuc: “We have an understanding that everywhere, we go fifty-fifty. Basically, me and Ruslan are there.”

In Moldova, Cavio’s official representative is Euroatlant Ltd., which was founded in 2003 as Simex-Ungheni Ltd. In 2008, it changed its name to Cavio Ltd., and in January 2013, changed once more to Euroatlant. The company’s partners are Chirinciuc and Vornicu, while Chirinciuc’s niece, Lidia Goian, is director. Details, HERE

In his PhD dissertation, defended in February 2016, Chirinciuc describes in detail the activity of Euroatlant, located in the Ungheni Free Economic Zone. In 2013 alone, the company registered sales revenues of 62 million lei (US$ 3.1 million). Details, HERE

Rovigo Ltd. is another firm in the Cavio group. This Moldovan company, named for an Italian town, manages the “Home Italy” and “Adorama” furniture stores, located in the Buiucani sector of Chisinau. At “Home Italy,” sofas can cost as much as 90,000 lei (US$ 4,500).

Until 2013, Chirinciuc was listed the majority shareholder in Rovigo. That same year, he sold the share capital to an offshore company in Cyprus: Cavio Holding Ltd. The transaction was handled through a power of attorney by advocate Sergei Bucataru. Two years later, Chirinciuc was appointed Minister of Transport and Bucataru was hired at the same ministry as deputy minister.

According to the State Registration Chamber, in 2015 Rovigo Ltd. was represented through power of attorney by Irina Cij, an employee at Cavio Moldova, when Rovigo’s share capital was increased from 5,000 to 3.4 million lei (US$ 250 to US$ 170,000). The previous year, Chirinciuc had given Melinte an apartment in Chisanau’s Botanica sector. Also in 2015, close Chirinciuc family friend Victor Melinte was appointed Rovigo manager.

In the same building with “Home Italy,” Chirinciuc’s godson Vornicu owns a furniture store via a company called Bucataria Mea Ltd. Details, HERE

Still another company affiliated with Cavio is Ghenmar-Plus Ltd., which imports furniture to Moldova. Ghenmar is owned by a former Minister of Defense, Vitalie Vrabie, and is administered by Chirinciuc’s niece, Lidia Goian. Details, HERE

In Romania, Chirinciuc’s wife Tamara imports high-end Italian furniture. She is the founder of Moldacom Group LLC, based in Iasi, the largest city in eastern Romania. As of 2014, family friend Melinte was appointed Moldacom manager. Details, HERE

Data from the business registry in Romania reveals a new connection between the family business and Cavio Chirinciuc Holding Ltd., a company registered in the offshore tax haven of Cyprus and connected to Hedonic Holding Ltd. of Romania. The manager and representative of Hedonic is Tamara Chirinciuc, who in 2014 received a salary from Hedonic; in 2015 the company decided to enter the liquidation process. Details, HERE

The smuggling case
In Romania, Tamara Chirunciuc and Moldacom Group were investigated in connection with a smuggling case stemming from 2010 Moldacom purchases of furniture from San Marino, a country outside the European Union (EU), which were then sold to a company in Estonia, an EU member state. Romanian prosecutors accused the two of failing to declare or pay re-export duties, amounting to about 70,000 Romanian lei (about US$ 17,000).

In 2014, the Iasi Court sentenced Tamara Chirinciuc to 8 months in prison for smuggling, but suspended the sentence. Subsequently, she appealed the ruling at the Iasi Court of Appeal. On May 15, 2015, the magistrates dismissed the appeal. Next she appealed for annulment of the decision of May 2015; that too was rejected.

The criminal case that also involves the Moldacom group is pending in the Supreme Court of Romania, the High Court of Cassation and Justice. A hearing on the case was scheduled for next week. Details, HERE

Italian Cavio’s official website, www.cavio.it, says it sells furniture in 20 cities of Ukraine, with most of its shops in Kyiv. The Ukrainian register of businesses lists two companies with the name Cavio.

One is owned by an Ukrainian and the other, Cavio Holding Ltd., was founded in Cyprus. Cavio Holding’s true owner is Chininciuc family friend Melinte. According to Chirinciuc, his godson Vornicu is responsible for the Ukrainian Cavio business.

The Cavio website in Ukraine – cavio-interiors.ua – is hosted on servers from Moldova.

Italian furniture is also sold in Russia. In 2008, businessman Nicolae Gushan and Vornicu founded Hedonic Ltd. Later, the company is taken over by the Cypriot offshore, Cavio Holding Ltd., and currently the company’s sole shareholder is a Russian citizen, Iligar Djumshudov.

In his PhD thesis, Chirinciuc explained how Cavio operates internationally.

“Regarding the strategic CAVIO alliance (SCA) to enhance effectiveness and efficiency, its divisions and affiliated companies were placed in various strategic areas, thereby optimizing the company’s expenses, production activities, logistics, using tax opportunities, ensuring logistics process, minimizing customs barriers etc. […]”

Another link between Chirinciuc and Cavio is his resume attached to the thesis. In the category “personal data” he included two e-mail addresses: an official one, ministru@mtid.gov.md, and a private one: iurie.chirinciuc@cavio.it. Details, HERE

Additionally, Cavio’s brand name was printed on the T-shirts of FC Costuleni football team during the period when Chirinciuc financed the club.

The 2014 income statement for Chirinciuc and his wife lists shares in three companies specializing in the sale of furniture: Euromobila-Lux JV, 72.8 percent; Euroatlant Ltd., 50 percent; and Moldacom Grup Ltd. (Romania ), 100 percent. Chirinciuc also states that he holds shares in two companies trading in fruits and vegetables, and in construction, he holds 44 percent of Hinzunicom JV. Details, HERE

Under the law on declaration and control of income and property of public dignitaries, Chirinciuc is bound to declare “Goods obtained by intermediaries or transmitted free for consideration to ascendants, descendants, brothers, sisters and in-laws of the same degree, as well as those sent free of charge to any person.”

Chirinciuc was councilor at Ungheni District Council for three years until, in 2014, he was elected to Parliament on the Liberal Party list. Since July 2015, he has served as minister.

Since heading the ministry, Chirinciuc has promoted to key posts many people who previously had represented his private interests.

Sergei Bucataru became deputy minister in 2015 after he represented Chirinciuc’s companies in court, and in 2013 brokered the transaction between Chirinciuc and the Cypriot offshore.

Vitalie Rapcea, the second deputy minister at MTRI, is a fomer Chirinciuc adviser. In 2015, before becoming deputy, he managed Chirinciuc’s personal blog. Details, HERE

Dorina Bagrinovski is the minister’s secretary. She was previously marketing director at FC Costuleni, a football team funded by Chirinciuc. Details, HERE

Iurie Chirinciuc: “Today I make money from business … and keep a large number of people employed. I give my salary to my deputies, the assistant. I gave them my salary card and I told them, you take this much, you take that much … I came (to the ministry) for my moral satisfaction.”

On Jan. 20 of this year, when Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip’s cabinet was sworn in, Chirinciuc signed the declaration of integrity that read: “I am not and I have not been involved in obtaining unjustified (non)patrimonial benefits and I have not violated the Law on Conflict of Interest.” However, Chirinciuc did not mention in his statements of income and interests the Cavio Italy business in the period 2014-2015 when he was a member of Parliament, nor when he became Minister of Transport in the Strelet government. Details, HERE

Iurie SANDUTA (RISE Moldova), Nicu CALCEA (Moldova.org)

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