Moldova: Air Traffic Company Must Pay Electric Bill to Ukrainian Company

All of the money collected over the past four months by MoldATSA, a state company responsible for air traffic security in Moldova, is being held in a special account in Brussels at the request of a Ukrainian company which obtained a judicial decision in its favor in Belgium.

MoldATSA headquarterThe sequestration of MoldATSA accounts in Belgium has created problems for this strategic company, which is responsible for directing airplanes in Moldovan airspace.

Documents obtained by RISE Moldova show that MoldATSA has not received 60 million lei (about US$ 3 million) for air navigation services from EUROCONTROL, the Belgium-based European organization which coordinates air traffic in 41 states. Consequently, MoldASTA owes about 5 million lei (US$ 264,000) in unpaid salaries and 11 million lei (US$ 580,000) in debt to suppliers.

The money has been frozen since last April, but the roots of the underlying legal dispute stretch back more than 15 years, when Moldtranselectro (Moldova’s electric company) ran up a large bill importing electricity from a Ukrainian company called Energolians.

In the intervening years the parties have disputed the circumstances of the deal, but on Oct. 25, 2013 the International Court of Arbitration in Paris ruled that Moldova must pay Energoalians US$ 47 million.

The ruling noted that one of the contracts contained stipulations "contrary to the interests of the Moldovan population and Moldtranselectro, such that Moldtranselectro’s manager must have acted under pressure when he signed the documents or his actions are fraudulent (eg, in collusion with the applicant)."

Nevertheless, on Feb. 18 of this year Moldova was ordered to pay the legal successor to Energoalians, a company called Komstroy.

In April, Belgian bailiffs blocked the sum of € 144,190 (US$ 160,000) in MoldATSA accounts held in Belgium and EUROCONTROL transferred this sum into a special account.

Komstroy is owned by Dmitro Sarnatki, who holds 60 percent of the shares, with the other 40 percent held by the Avtosila company.