Moldovan Oligarch Sells 12 Duty-Free Shops to Bulgarian National

Nikolay Marchenko

The leader of the Moldovan “ȘOR” party, Moldovan-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor, has sold 12 duty-free shops to Bulgarian entrepreneur Marko Stefanov Todorov. This deal by the politician and former mayor of the Moldovan city of Orhei (Orgeev) was reported on June 19 by the Moldovan site Мold-street. The Bulgarian is obviously a front because he has no experience in this field, and his companies in Bulgaria are under numerous bank distraints.

According to the Moldovan edition, the controlled by Shor company Dufremol, the operator of Moldovan duty-free shops (at the Chisinau airport and the border checkpoints with Ukraine and Romania), has become property of the Bulgarian businessman. The deal took place in April 2019. Since recently, the company’s site is not working.

Until April 2019, the stepmother of Ilan Shor – Ilona Shor was listed as the owner of Dufremol. One of the registers of Moldovan legal entities also has recorded information on this.

Another company of Ilan Shor’s family, DFM, continues to operate duty-free shops. It was recently announced on the DFM’s website that the company is “the main duty-free shop operator in Moldova”. According to Ion Preasca, editor-in-chief of Mold-street and investigative journalist of RISE Moldova, Bulgarian Marko Stefanov Todorov had been rather a strawman in this deal.

One of the reasons for the sale may have been Ilan Shor’s wish after the parliamentary elections on February 24, 2019, in which his “ȘOR” party won seven seats, to formally reduce his participation in some of his countless businesses. “He may well have also wanted to protect one of his businesses from the risk of confiscation,” Ion Preasca told Bivol.

Bulgarian with distraints in seven banks

There is only one Marko Stefanov Todorov is in the Trade Register in the “Variant-Consult” company, active since 2007. The company has submitted only one annual financial report in 2009. For 2007, it has declared BGN 82,000 of sales revenue.

From 2009 to 2016, seven financial institutions have put a freeze on the company’s shares for various amounts – from BGN 5,000 to BGN 100,000.

Marko Todorov is also registered in Bulstat as a “business and management consultant”. In the past, he has also participated in the companies “Karavel – Plovdiv”, which has ceased operations, as well as in “Consult-Todorov & Partners”, where he no longer participates.

Public registers contain no other information about this person, but the numerous distraints are not an attestation for a successful business.

Our attempts to contact Todorov failed. The phones of his companies are not active. We managed to get in touch with a former partner in the company “Variant MTBK”, who said that he has lost contact with Todorov for years.

Ilan Shor – oligarch, mayor, lawmaker

Ilan Shor is a former banker and former mayor of Orhei, 45 km north of Chisinau. He controls the concessionaire of Chisinau International Airport (KIV) – Avia Invest SRL.

He is a defendant in the “Great Moldovan Bank Robbery” case for transferring USD 1 billion from Moldova’s banking system in 2014. In this case, he testified against the former Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM). In 2015, Filat was stripped of parliamentary immunity and is in prison on a nine-year sentence for “passive corruption”.

It is believed that oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc had been the mastermind behind the case, using Ilan Shor’s testimony about Filat accepting bribery against the latter who was his coalition partner at the time. As one of the sponsors of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), Plahotniuc received full power over Parliament and the country.

Despite his sentence, Ilan Shor first became mayor and then lawmaker, remaining free due to pending appeals. Although the report of the private international investigation agency Kroll names him as one of the main protagonists in the “Great Moldovan Bank Robbery”, he was formally just a witness in the case.

Dufremol has duty-free shops not only in Moldova but also in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, it is not surprising that on March 15, 2015, the then-President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev flew from Bishkek to St. Petersburg through Chisinau.

He first flew to the west and then northeast, making a serious detour from the normal route. The flight was private and was chartered by Nobil Air, the company of Ilan Shor, the concessionaire of the only international Moldovan airport.

It turns out that in the Moldavian capital Atambayev had met the richest oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc and had delivered a message to the Kremlin.

The message had represented a package of bilateral cooperation proposals and a plan to settle the Transnistrian conflict. This, however, did not help Plahotniuc, suspected by Russia of passport forgery and plotting the murder of the businessman and leader of the pro-Russian “Our Party”, Renato Usatîi

The relation between Plahotniuc and Ilan Shor was also proven by a number of investigations by Bivol’s partner in the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) – the site RISE Moldova. For example, the two are mentioned in the investigations The Laundromat and The Moldovan Theft of the Century.

Avoiding jail…

On June 8, 2019, the President of the Republic of Moldova appointed Maia Sandu, Co-chair of the opposition pro-European ACUM (“Sega”) Electoral Bloc, as Prime Minister of Moldova in the presence of the ambassadors of the European Union, Peter Mihalko and of the Russian Federation, Oleg Vasnetsov.

The leader of the Pro-Russian Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) Zinaida Greceanîi became the Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. ACUM and PSRM announced a temporary coalition, while Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party blocked the government building in Chisinau and a number of ministries.

Plahotniuc’s special task forces and security companies were used for this purpose. The paid-by-the-DPM “protesters” were taken to Chisinau by buses of the companies of Ilan Shor.

On June 14, the US Ambassador to Moldova, Derek Hogan, arrived in Plahotniuc’s office and spent 15 minutes there. After that, the government of Pavel Filip, Plahotniuc’s deputy in the DPM, announced its resignation. Several private jets landed in Chisinau. The family of Ilan Shor left Moldova in the direction of Russia.

Ilan Shor left the country on June 14, at the same time as Vladimir Plahotniuc, the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, told the NTV Moldova TV, something also confirmed by a source of the site

Sources say that Plahotniuc has left with his family from the Ukrainian port town of Odessa (150 km from Chisinau) on a flight to Switzerland, while Ilan Shor has flown to Israel. The two are facing search warrants from the new government in Moldova after being charged for years in criminal cases in Russia.


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