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The Company Organising the Lottery in Moldova Cannot Say How Much It Paid Prime TV for Advertising, but Requires MP Alaiba to ‘Eliminate the Inaccuracies’

13 August 2019
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The MP Dumitru Alaiba (PAS faction, ‘ACUM’ Bloc) wrote on his blog that Prime TV allegedly received from the National Lottery of Moldova (NLM) EUR 350,000 during only six months and, in his opinion, that could be the reason why PRIME TV channel and other TV channels affiliated to Plahotniuc criticise his legislative initiative concerning the repeal of tax incentives for gambling. In its turn, the NGM Company Ltd., private partner of the National Lottery of Moldova (NLM), which manages the lottery games, reproached the MP for publishing inaccurate information. However, representatives of the company cannot say how much money they allocated to PRIME TV broadcaster, for the reason that these amounts are confidential.

The discussions on this topic started after MPs of the ‘ACUM’ Bloc – Dumitru Alaiba and Radu Marian – registered a draft law through which they want to cancel certain tax incentives that the gambling industry is currently benefiting from. Moreover, the organisation of gambling, except for casinos, was monopolised by the State-Owned Enterprise ‘National Lottery of Moldova’, following certain laws adopted by the democratic MPs in the previous Parliament. This happened after Vlad Plahotniuc stated that he would fight the gambling phenomenon and subsequently several activity licences were suspended.

At the request of Media-azi.md to specify how much was allocated to PRIME TV channel by NGM Company Ltd., the editor-in-chief and the producer of the company Tatiana Bahova answered that, altogether, the enterprise has allocated, since the beginning of the partnership with the National Lottery of Moldova until July 2019, an amount of EUR 310,000, which was distributed to all those 12 TV channels that were broadcasting the advertising. ‘We cannot make public the information regarding the amounts provided to each television broadcaster, in order not to violate the contract clauses and terms, which are confidential’, told us Tatiana Bahova.

According to her, the founders of NGM Company Ltd., which are Bulgarian investors, have requested from the beginning that advertising had to be broadcast on the most watched TV channel in the country. Later, they were told that the Moldovan media market is a specific one and that different groups of people watch different TV channels, which is why, at the beginning of the year, it was decided to redistribute the budget for advertising.

Bahova claims that if PRIME TV loses its popularity, the investors could identify other TV channels. The Bulgarian citizen Plamen Milanov, director of NGM Company Ltd. in Moldova, who signed the public-private partnership contract with NLM, spoke about this in a meeting with the journalists.

Milanov mentioned that the National Lottery show, though being broadcast on PRIME TV due to the high rating of the channel, is produced by directors and professionals from Bulgaria.

Earlier, a statement of the NGM Company was published on the Facebook page of the National Lottery of Moldova, which mentioned that the information published by the MP Dumitru Alaiba ‘may have not been understood correctly’ and that the MP was asked to ‘eliminate the inaccuracies’. According to the statement, the amount of EUR 350,000 indicated by Alaiba, was made up of all the advertising contracts concluded with the 12 TV channels for the period until the end of August and it was not true that this money went only to PRIME TV. Moreover, according to the press release, 20 % out of EUR 350,000 (in reality – less than EUR 310,000) was the VAT, which constitutes an indirect income of the state.

The National Lottery of Moldova (NLM) is fully owned by the Public Property Agency. It is an official state monopoly, having the appropriate permission to organise lotteries and gambling.  The contract with the Public Property Agency (PPA) regarding the public-private partnership for the development of the NLM activities was signed in May 2018, by the company ‘NGM Company’, founded in Chisinau, on 12 April 2018, by ‘NGM SPC LIMITED’ From Dubai. Under the conditions of the partnership, 75% of the revenues from lottery shall be collected by the state-owned company, while 25% – by the investors.

According to Ziarul de Garda, the company ‘NGM SPC Limited’ was registered on 18 February 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the most famous tax havens or jurisdictions that protect tax secrecy. According to information on the site Dubai International Financial Center (www.difc.ae), the company has three executives: Stephanie Amabao, Jedrek Jovellanos, Plamen Stefanov Milanov and two founders: ‘National Lottery AD’ and ‘New Games AD’ – companies from Bulgaria, which manage the Bulgarian national lottery and other gambling activity in Bulgaria. Both companies are in the portfolio of the Bulgarian businessman Vasil Bojkov, one of the richest citizens of Bulgaria.