Ex-Moldova PM named as having shares in 2 offshore companies

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — An investigation into how politicians use offshore companies to hide their assets named a former Moldovan prime minister Monday as having shares in two offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.

Ion Sturza, prime minister from 1998 to 1999, was a top executive in Rompetrol, a Romanian oil company from 2002 to 2009. The company had branches in Moldova, Bulgaria, France, Ukraine and Georgia until it was sold to Kazakh state oil company KMG in 2009.

Investigative journalists at RISE Moldova said Sturza, who was named deputy chairman for developing Rompetrol's interests in Russia and the former Soviet republics, together with the CEO of Rompetrol, Dinu Patriciu and Constantin Lutsenko, director of Rompetrol's Moscow office, became business associates in the offshore firm Markside Holdings Ltd in 2005.

The company was liquidated at a secret shareholder's meeting in 2012 with Sturza signing the decision.

Sturza denied any wrongdoing Monday.

RISE Moldova, which published the documents, also said Sturza and Lutsenko were associates at Chandler Group Holdings, together with Gunnar Nordsletten, the son of the Norwegian ambassador to Russia from 2000 to 2008, Oeyvind Nordsletten. It said Sturza later ceded his shares to Lutsenko.

"There were a lot of companies where we were managers, were beneficiaries, but I can't remember this company," Sturza said Monday. "These were not companies used for evasion or covering up financial" transactions.

Patriciu died in 2014.