EBRD, after scam takeover of Giurgiulesti port, says the sale to Ukrainians ruled out

The EBRD denies reports that the Giurgiulesti Free International Port could sold to a Ukrainian company via Romania.

“The EBRD’s strategic objective remains to find a reputable investor to develop the Giurgilesi Free International Port to its full potential in the medium to long term. In this context, we are holding intensive consultations with the Moldovan authorities on the port’s future, including further investment and development in the area,” the EBRD information said, bani.md reports.

Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu stated at the end of September 2023 that Romania intends to buy the Free International Port of Giurgiulesti in the Republic of Moldova. The decision comes amid an ownership and legality scandal in which the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) took over the port following allegations of fraud against its former employee, Thomas Moser. It involves the embezzlement of foreign wealth by former Bemol company officials.

Seizure and criminal file

In June 2022, the information emerged that, at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases (PCCOCS), the investigating judge imposed seizure in an amount exceeding 150 million lei on assets forming the share capital of Danube Logistics, which manages the Giurgiulesti Free International Port.

Mathias von Tucher, director of Danube Logistics SRL, described the seizure as “an expropriation of the EBRD.” According to the prosecutor’s office, the criminal case dates back to 2020. It is aimed at the embezzlement of foreign assets by former Bemol decision-makers “and relates to alleged illegal actions underlying the takeover of the port’s management.”

“As a result of the investigations, in June 2022, a person with the role of decision-maker was indicted by PCCOCS prosecutors, a person who during the criminal prosecution is invoking the presumption of innocence, according to the law,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.


He is Thomas Moser, who was, until May 2021, the final beneficiary of Danube Logistics, the operator of PILG, which he managed until 2019.

Indiction of Former EBRD employee Thomas Moser 

Former administrator Thomas Moser, who was at the helm of the Port of Giurgiulesti until 2021, was indicted by PCCOCS prosecutors in the summer of 2022 on charges of embezzling foreign wealth. He was last in Austria.

The Giurgiulesti Port dispute arose when the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) took over the Giurgiulesti International Port in May 2021 from Thomas Moser, a former EBRD banker who was the port’s administrator, and once it became owner, was involved in a legal dispute with the original Azerbaijani owner Rafig Aliyev.

Aliyev, via his company Bemol, a significant operator of PECO stations in Moldova, has initiated legal proceedings against the EBRD in Moldovan civil courts. Additionally, he has filed criminal charges for forgery against lawyers and other bank representatives, as well as against Moser, accusing him of embezzlement. Both cases are under investigation by Moldovan prosecutors.

The EBRD purchased the Giurgiulesti port for $344 and sold it for €1000.

In mid-2020, concerns about the EBRD potentially losing control over PILG spurred efforts to find solutions to avert this possibility. One proposed solution was a controversial emergency amendment to money laundering legislation, advocated by the Chicu government in July 2020 to aid the EBRD.

However, the document did not progress to the final reading due to scandal. Consequently, the EBRD, alongside the Danube Logistics administration, legal representatives, and others, endeavored to explore new solutions. One of these solutions involved the EBRD taking control of the Danube Logistics group.

Since 2014, multiple lawsuits have been initiated concerning the port of Giurgiulesti and involving Thomas Moser, who at the time served as the authorized trustee of several companies, including Bemol Retail SRL, Bemol Refinery SRL, and Danube Logistics SRL. These legal actions sought to recover damages resulting from fraud during Moser’s tenure as the administrator of Bemol Retail SRL and in connection with the sale-purchase transaction, in which Moser declared himself the owner of the Giurgiulesti port operator in 2011, with the transaction valued at only USD 344.

On May 19, 2021, the EBRD announced via press release that on May 7, 2021, it had acquired the Danube Logistics group of companies, thus becoming the sole beneficial owner of the Giurgiulesti Free International Port (PILG) operator. However, the EBRD did not provide information about the legal form and amount of the transaction. Nevertheless, official records from the companies registered in Cyprus confirmed that on May 7, 2021, the EBRD became the new owner of Thomo Invest Ltd for €1000.

Consequently, the EBRD acquired a nationally strategic economic asset, in which over €50 million had been invested, for €1000.

The announcement by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) of the acquisition of the Danube Logistics group of companies, thus becoming the sole final beneficiary of the operator of the Giurgiulesti International Free Port (PILG), elicited several adverse reactions from specialists and politicians, albeit less pronounced compared to other similar cases. However, the EBRD did not address allegations of utilizing offshore schemes or operating in a non-transparent and potentially illegal manner, prompting criticism for disregarding the Moldovan authorities and government.

The transaction occurred while the shares of Danube Logistics SRL were under judicial seizure to enforce a final court decision, in violation of obligations stipulated in the Investment Agreement requiring mandatory consent from the Government of the Republic of Moldova for any alienation transaction involving the port or its shares.

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