4 Apr 2023 20:02

Timing of audit of Moldovagaz debt to Gazprom changed again, Moldova has not yet paid auditors

CHISINAU. April 4 (Interfax) - The Moldovan government has not yet paid two foreign companies that are auditing Moldovagaz's historical debt to Gazprom , Moldovan Energy Minister Viktor Parlikov said.

"It is not yet known when the results of the audit of Moldovagaz's historical debt to Gazprom will be announced. The audit deadlines have been extended. They are at work, but we had an internal procedural difficulty with payment. The money was allocated last year. The budget for last year ran out while they were signing it. The companies have not been paid yet," Parlikov said in an interview with Moldovan National Radio on Tuesday.

He believes the Moldovan authorities have no "moral right" to rush the companies.

"We do not have the moral right to somehow rush them and insist that they complete this work faster. We have not even partially fulfilled our financial obligation. We must solve the problem with payment. They are expected to complete the audit in May," the minister said

As previously reported, on November 1, 2021, a contract for the supply of gas to Moldova for a period of five years came into force. The conclusion of the agreement was preceded by the signing of a protocol on the further actions of the parties. According to the protocol signed by then Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu and Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Alexei Miller, the Moldovan side must audit the debt of Moldovagaz (which, according to the Russian side, is $709 million). The results of the audit had to be submitted before May 1, 2022, so that Moldovagaz and Gazprom could sign a debt settlement agreement by this date, providing for the repayment of the entire debt within five years.

The tender for the selection of the auditor was announced at the end of January 2022 by the State Property Agency of Moldova. However, the Moldovan government recognized it as invalid, since the tender conditions were not met, one of which was the participation of at least two foreign companies.

In August 2022, the State Property Agency signed an audit agreement with two companies - Wikborg Rein Advokatfirma AS (Norway) and Forensic Risk Alliance & Co (UK). The auditors will audit the process of the formation the debt of Moldovagaz to Gazprom and Factoring-Finance LLC for gas supplies to the right bank of the Dniester from August 27, 1991 through October 31, 2021.

In November 2022, the Moldovan government decided to pay two companies 800,000 euros for the audit. According to the agreements, the audit was to be completed by January 30, 2023. In March, the State Property Agency of Moldova announced that the deadline for the audit had been extended. Parlikov then said that the results of the audit should be presented in April.