Integrity

Drone filming // Democrat Constantin Botnari fenced illegally 40 acres of forest?

Proprietatea lui Constantin Botnari, văzută de la înălţime. Imagine cu drona: Anatol Mătăsaru
Author: Julieta Savițchi
18/02/2016 48061

Democrat MP Constantin Botnari who accompanies the controversial businessman Vlad Plahotniuc in public, tendered his resignation last week. Officially, he has modest incomes, but in the period when he was MP, he built a luxury house in the forest near Durlesti, suburb of the capital. His house reminds of the White House in Washington. A drone filming makes us believe that the land of about 21 acres was too small for the house, so the democrat MP fenced 40 acres of forest. Both representatives of Moldsilva Agency and local authorities claim that forest is not leased since 2012.

Constantin Botnari (second from the left), next to Constantin Ţuţu, Vlad Plahotniuc and Vasile Botnari. Photo: plahotniuc.md

Constantin Botnari was elected MP following the elections from November 2014; he was No.7 on the list of the Democratic Party. He is known as the right-hand man of Plahotniuc, first deputy chairman of the party. He always accompanies  the businessman. Several politicians have dubbed him “Plahotniuc’s purse”. Before he was elected MP, he was general secretary of the Democratic Party and advisor of Vladimir Plahotniuc. In the Legislative, Constantin  Botnari was elected member of the Commission for national security, defense and public order. On 11 February, Democrat MP tendered his resignation.  

Luxury house built in a year and a half

The press wrote that the luxury house of Constantin Botnari resembles to the White House in Washington. According to the income statement for 2014, the democrat MP declared that in 2014, he started the construction of the house of 340 square meters and the garage with 150 square meters. On September 17, 2015, both constructions were commissioned and on September 21, they were registered at Cadaster. According to real estate experts, the house is estimated at about 7 million lei.

If we are to believe the income statements which the Democrat MP has made public so far, Constantin Botnari built this property in almost austere conditions. The income statement for 2014 shows that the income of the family Botnari was the salary of MP worth 100.000 lei. He has not had high incomes before he was elected MP. In the statement filed to the Central Election Commission, the MP showed that he raised a salary estimated at 213.552 lei in the period 2012-2013. He received 88 lei, 17 dollars and one euro from interest. Also, Botnari declared that he borrowed 156.000 euros from the bank. Constantin Botnari took the first credit worth 6.000 euros in 2006.  Also, his wife Victoria invested 6.000 euro in the construction of a parking by SA Interactiv in the same year. The property statement shows that family Botnari does not receive any income from this investment, and based on the investment agreement, Victoria Botnari was supposed to get a parking place. 

He fenced almost 40 acres of forest

The luxury house of the family Botnari is located in a residential area in Durlesti, known as “Poiana Domneasca” (Royal Glade). According to the income statement of the MP and data from Cadaster, as of 2012, the MP purchased many plots for construction, which he consolidated in one plot on 31 July 2013. Cadastral value of  21 acres is more than 275,000 lei. The market price of a plot of seven acres for construction in this area ranges between 25,000 euros to 50,000 euros.

As he built the house and a garage, Constantin Botnari has fenced the property with a stone fence with a height of over two meters. The MP fenced 40 acres instead of 21. At least, this we can see from the video recordings made by a drone. The images show a paved road that leads into the fenced forest. According to cadastral data, the forest with an area of 40 hectares was leased by the company Batami group in Chisinau. Details HERE.

The lease contract between the State Enterprise for Forestry in Chisinau and SRL Batami group was concluded on 2 June, 2008. Coincidentally or not, SRL Batami group was registered on 24 March 2008. The company was founded by Ion Meleca. The main type of activity of the company is renting its own real estate, activities of entertainment parks, trade in stands and markets etc.

Author of video: Anatol Matasaru

Employee from Moldsilva: “Forests are not leased since 2012"

Andrei Balan, secretary of the local Council in Durlesti argues that he did not issue any contract for forest’s lease. “Construction plots in Poiana Domneasca (Royal Glade) have been distributed in 2005, seven acres for a family. We did not give any land for construction to family Botnari, most probably; they bought more plots and consolidated them. We are not responsible for the forest", said the local official.

Petru Rotaru, head of the forestry fund, protected areas, security and protection of the Agency Moldsilva said that forests are not leased since 2012. "We initiated termination of agreements for leased forests by 2012, so we did not issue other lease contracts", said the official.

Other properties of the politician

Constantin Botnari owns an apartment with 172 square meters with a cadastral value of 885.000 lei in Chisinau. The politician has 2 cars: Mercedes, 2005 and BMW, 2011. In the income statement, Botnari declared that he purchased the Mercedes in 2006 at the price of 460.000 lei and the second car in 2012 at the price of  977.000  lei.

Constantin Botnari did not answer the phone for further comments. We are open to find the stance of the general secretary of the Democratic Party.

This investigation was carried out within the Campaign "Journalists for Transparency in Public Funds’ Management" organized by the Center for Investigative Journalism, with the support of the Good Governance Program of Soros Foundation Moldova. The financing institution does not influence in any way the subject and content of published investigations.  

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