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Sep 08, 2023 13:23 EEST
September 8 (SeeNews) - Moldova’s energy ministry said that an international audit revealed that the public natural gas supplier and distributor Moldovagaz owed only $8.6 million (8 million euro) to Gazprom, challenging a $709 million historical debt claim made by the Russian company.
According to the audit, a large part of the alleged debt was not confirmed and is unenforceable, with some $276 million having no supporting documentation and $400 million representing unenforceable claims due to expired arbitration decisions, Moldova’s energy ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
“Citizens of the Republic of Moldova should not bear the burden of non-existent debts to Gazprom. Following the external audit, we firmly reject the alleged debts claimed by Gazprom's subsidiary, Moldovagaz,” Moldova’s prime minister, Dorin Recean, said in the press release.
Other key findings have revealed that nearly half of the alleged debt comprises late fees, accrued at steep interest rates. The audit report also outlines a counterclaim against Gazprom for having failed to pay $160 million in gas transit fees from 2007.
In a statement published on social media on Wednesday evening, Gazprom said it “categorically rejects the statements of the Moldovan party and intends to keep claiming its rights by all appropriate means”. The Russian company added that “the conditions of the tender for the auditor’s services were determined by the Moldovan party unilaterally and were not agreed with Gazprom and Moldovagaz”, while the auditor’s findings have no bearing on the validity of the alleged debt.
The United States welcomed the completion of the independent audit report, according to a U.S. State Department press release issued on Thursday. “It should come as no surprise that Gazprom could not substantiate the exorbitant bill that Russia expected the Moldovan people to pay,” State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, said.
Russia's Gazprom owns 50% of Moldovagaz, the Moldovan government owns 35.33% and the remainder is held by the government of Transnistria, the pro-Russian separatist republic in eastern Moldova.
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