TOL: The Hidden Assets of Moldova’s Gun Shop Bosses


Original source: Transitions Online

Even though the directors of state-owned enterprises have a legal obligation to publish asset declarations, the administrators of gun shops avoided the law and have hidden their luxury villas, businesses and recent income from National Integrity Commission (NIC). The boss from Cartuș started completing his declaration just after we made some requests to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and NIC.

Cartuș is a gun shop owned by the MIA. According to their financial report for 2012, the company managed by Vasile Gondiu cashed 17.7 million lei from sales.

Gondiu became the manager of Cartuș in 2010, and he has never published an asset declaration.

The boss of the shop lives in a two-storey house in Chișinău, with a total surface of 182 m2. The land the house is build on also has two annexes and a pool. According to real estate experts, the house is valued at about nine million lei. “I have built the house, but it doesn’t have anything to do with my job now”, said Gondiu.

Vasile Gondiu's house

Besides being the administrator at the state-owned Cartuș, Gondiu is also the administrator at “Baikal-Arm”, a company founded by the Chișinău city hall in 2003. Gondiu says the company has never been active.

The data from the State Registration Chamber shows that the Cartuș boss is also the owner of Crismar-Lux SRL and also own 30% of security firm Liom-Securitate SRL. Gondiu has been elected as the president of the Association of sportive shooting and gun collectors “PATRIOT” in May 2014.

Vasile Gondiu: “The companies are inactive. You can register a firm in a day, but it’s practically impossible to close them”.

Vasile Gondiu’s daughter, Marina, is listed as leading specialist for the institution. The administrator of the company says his daughter has worked there just for a couple of months.

Vasile Gondiu: “It seems that you talked to them (MIA – ed.), and they talked to us. I studied the law and it’s on the fence… But if you say that I have to submit a declaration, I’ll do it, no problem. If anyone would have told me earlier, I would have submitted it with the speed of a bullet. I don’t have anything to hide.”.

Vasile Gondiu

Gondiu’s relationship with the leader of the masons in Moldova

Gondiu’s name is mentioned in a Romanian intelligence report, being presented as a contact for Armitech, a company located in Chișinău that specializes in gun trafficking and used by the Russian spy services.

“Anatol Coman is an ex-KGB officer, Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge of Chișinău, and together with Vasile Gondiu works with Alexandr Kondyakov (ex-KGB) for Novokom (officially recognised as Putin’s lobby firm)”, mentions the report.

Gondiu says he has gotten into this mess by accident. “Coman asked me to accompany him in Bucharest. He met with some influential people there. To be honest, I never knew them.”.

The real estate transactions of the new boss of Pulbere

The state-owned gun store “Pulbere” is founded by the MIA (50%) and the Service of Information and Security (50%). Mihai Cebotari became the administrator of the institution in July 2015.


Cebotari declared that he has submitted his assets declaration.

A month prior to his appointment, Cebotari sold his 182 m2 villa in Cojușna, Strășeni. The owner of the house became “Concordia Proiecte Sociale”, run by the Romanian citizen Michael Zikeli.

Officially, Cebotari lives on Mitropolit Varlaam, 84, in a 263 m2 registered in his daughter’s names, both of them 14.

The administrator of Pulbere owns half of the company Artvlamir SRL, the other half being owned by businessman Serghei Radcenco. The company specializes in producing, importing, exporting and selling explosive material. Artvlamir has a storehouse in Chișinău and one in Bulboaca, where the training base of the National Army is.


Mihai Cebotari: „Artvlamir was initially created by three soldiers. That’s why it’s called Artvlamir: Artur, Vladimir and Mircea. After that, it was bought and reregistered.”

The conflicts of interest of the previous boss

The previous administrator of Pulbere, Evghenie Damian, has never submitted an assets or interests declaration.

Damian is the president of the National Association of Hunters, Armorers and Gun Owners. One of the founders is Anatolie Dimitriu, president of the Ialoveni district. The association is very close to the private gun store Voentorg.

In 2012, Evghenie Damian has registered the trade mark for “VOENTORG MD”, the brand of Tactical International Group SRL. The company is officially owned by the Romanian businessmen Vasile-Eugen Popa and Lavinius Voicu. Damian’s name is listed on a Romanian classifieds website as a Voentorg representative.

Nicu CALCEA, Veaceslav AFTENE

The article is published under the program of trainings “Data Journalism / Follow the Money” conducted by RISE Moldova, with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy and the Netherlands Embassy.