Chief communications officer of Tajikistan sells apartments in his work office.
The head of the Communication Service under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan launched several points of Dushanbe apartments’ sales operating on the premises of the state body he controls. The apartments sold are built by a private firm of his son. These are the highlights of the journalistic investigation “The Houses That Beg Built” published in a local media Faraj.tj.
Subscribe to our Telegram channel!
Beg Sabur, the head of Communication Service of Tajikistan, sells apartments in Dushanbe new-builts from the comfort of his office. The construction company owning real estate belongs to official’s son. Moreover, some subordinates of the chief Tajik communicator are also actively involved in the sale of residential spaces.
“I received a big discount, which I wouldn’t get buying apartment in other buildings. The square meter priced at $500, was sold to me at $400. I made the last payment today and came to thank Beg Sabur”, —about 50-years-old woman boasts.
This is a fragment of the dialogue happened at the office of Communication Service’s head. More than ten people are waiting for an audience of Beg Sabur here. Judging by conversations, about half of them had an appointment not with an official, but with a apartments’ dealer.
Since Dushanbe residents rumor that it is easy to buy housing in capital’s new buildings first-hand in the Communication Service’s headquarter building, the author of this investigation visited the queue of potential buyers several times. The real estate sold personally by Sabur is named accordingly – “the houses of Beg Sabur”.
Private “Mom-And-Pop Store” Within State Agency
Meanwhile, the apartments sold by the official in his workplace are constructed by the private company LLC “Komil 2010”. Siyovush Zuhurov, son of Beg Sabur, is listed as its owner. “Komil 2010” sales office is located in the same building as the Communication Service.
Communication Service is the state body of Tajikistan responsible for the control and regulation of telecommunications, for example, for issuing licenses to phone and Internet operators.
31 October 2018. Disguised as an ordinary customer, I visit the Communication Service HQ. The purpose of the visit is to bargain with the official over an apartment built by his son.
Today, the offices of the state agency headed by Sabur are located in a building in the heart of Dushanbe — on Rudaki Avenue. The Communication Service temporarily rents the office space from “Tojiktelecom”, its affiliated state company. “Komil 2010” apartment sales office is also located here.
Entering the building of the state agency, I had to inform security he came to Communication Service to buy an apartment. The security officers were not surprised by the declared purpose of visit. I was sent to the second floor.
There is a sign on the door of one of the offices, which reads “Zarafshon apartments sales” (Zarafshon is one of the neighborhoods of Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, – Ed.) I entered. About 10 people, both men and women, sit at the tables. There are projects of buildings in front of them, on the tables; the prices per square meter are in US dollars. At the same time, the article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan prohibits any transaction in foreign currency making it a criminal offence.
Having heard that I was going to buy an apartment from them, one of the employees, who introduced herself as Lola, told me more on the available options. According to her, the company “Komil 2010” sells apartments in “Zarafshon” residential district. The housing is ready for buyers to move in. They also offer accommodation in houses that have not yet been built: in the capital center, near the Agrarian University and Dushanbe International Airport.
I chose “Zarafshon” district and was sent to discuss the terms of the deal on the first floor, in the office of the head of the state Communication Service. Personally to Beg Sabur.
Bargaining with the Official
A lot of people were waiting for their turn both in the reception room hallway and inside the office of Beg Sabur. The official himself demonstrated the talents of the all-in-one leader: someone asked him to pay for travel and hotel accommodation, another visitor – to sign the pension documents, the third brought him samples of construction materials for approval, and the rest were potential clients of the construction company.
Our dialogue with Beg Sabur almost immediately began with bargaining.
Client (undercover journalist): — Rais (Tajik for “boss”, – Ed.), will there be a discount?
Beg Sabur: — How much money will you pay?
Client: — If I pay now 100%, it is 22 thousand (dollars), and if 50%, then 23 thousand
Beg Sabur: Yes.
Client: When can we move in?
Beg Sabur: It is almost ready. Make house repairs, you can live.
Client: If we pay 50%, will you give us the documents? What documents will you give?
Beg Sabur: Yes, we will process all the documents. Pay 15 thousand (dollars) urgently. That’s all.
Client: What documents will you give then?
Beg Sabur: All the documents will be notarized and handed to you. The construction of this (house) is already finished. You can start the house repairs now. <…> In March, we will put [in commission].
Within two months, the author of this article visited the sales office three more times and witnessed the sale of apartments by Beg Sabur three times.
The Ground for a Criminal Case
The Agency for Combatting Corruption and Agency of Civil Service: a civil servant has no right to engage in entrepreneurial activity
As stated in a commentary by the Agency of Civil Service under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan to the official request, “a civil servant [in addition to his main work] has no right to engage in other activities, except scientific, creative and pedagogical”.
The response of the Agency also referred to the part 5 of article 30 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Civil Service”, which establishes that a civil servant has no right to participate in the management of the economic entity, i.e. engage in entrepreneurial activity.
According to article 11 of the law “On Combating Corruption”, failure to comply with restrictions on service [in a state institution] is a basis for criminal prosecution.
In the official response, the representatives of the anti-corruption agency added that article 318 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan defines the sanctions for officials for entrepreneurial activity, which include a fine of 250 to 365 calculated indicators (1447 dollars to 2113 dollars respectively) or imprisonment for up to two years.
As it became clear during this investigation, some employees of Communication Service combine their positions of civil servants with work in “Komil 2010” company.
Background information: LLC “Komil 2010” was registered within the Tax Committee of Tajikistan on 27 October 2010, at the following address: Rudaki district, jamoat Chorgulteppa, Obi Shifo village. The founder of the company – Zuhurov Siyovush Begovich, executive director — Zuhurov Muso Ismatovich. The company is mainly engaged in the construction and production of building materials.
For an official confirmation of the fact of Beg Sabur being engaged in entrepreneurial activity within “Komil 2010” company, and establishing on what conditions this firm rents space in the building of Communication Service, the journalistic inquiry was prepared.
I called the phone number listed on the door sign “Zarafshon apartments sale” in the building of the Communication Service.
The woman, who introduced herself as an employee of the sales department Mutabar Abdulloeva, sent me to Mahmadsodiq Kululov, who she presented as “Komil 2010” sales department lawyer.
However, Kululov did not want to answer a request. According to him, the request should be handed personally to Beg Sabur, who will then appoint a person responsible for the answer.
Responding to a question on his position in the company, Kululov confirmed he is an authorized company lawyer. Interestingly, at the same time, Kululov holds a position of the head of Communication Service Control Department.
After Kululov’s refusal, I returned to the office “Zarafshon apartments sale”. However, Mutabar Abdulloeva refused to accept the journalistic request again. Here, it turned out that she also combines the work in the sales office with her work in the Communication Service.
Abdulloeva advised to come some other day, so that the “chief”, i.e. Beg Sabur, was in the office, and it could become possible to hand in a request letter in person. I managed to hand in the official request personally to official only during my fourth visit to this state agency.
“I will instruct the lawyer to give an answer in the near future,” Beg Sabur promised the author of the article on December 1, 2018.
As a result, for two requests sent (to Communication Service and to “Komil-2010” company), only one response was received. The author of this article received it personally from the hands of Mahmadsodiq Kululov, who combined work in state agency with work in a private company. The document was signed by “Komil 2010” executive director Muso Zuhurov.
According to this response, the firm rents only “necessary” for their activities amount of space from JSC “Tajiktelecom”, state-owned company subordinated to the Communication Service. The letter also stated that under the terms of agreement, the firm pays the rent according to the contract obligations.
Sabur: “I Receive Everything”
During the next audience with the head of the Communication Service, the author revealed he was a journalist and conducted a short interview with the official.
Sabur admitted that “Komil 2010” belongs to his son, and also confirmed his involvement in apartment trading.
Journalist: How do you help [the company “Komil 2010”]?
Beg Sabur: We don’t. We’re a governmental body. Only “Telecom” [helps]. In construction, etc.
<…> Journalist: How long have you been helping the company “Komil 2010”?
Beg Sabur: For 2-3 years.
Journalist: The people come to you to buy houses. How do you comment on this?
Beg Sabur: I am a guarantee that people are not deceived.
Journalist: But you also receive money?
Beg Sabur: I receive everything. I supervise. I pay for the re-bars and the rest. For [builders and buyers] not to be taken advantage of. In return, they [“Komil 2010”] help us. Provide equipment, excavator. There are agreements. I help them as a guarantor, so that there is no theft, deceit.
Journalist: Help “Komil 2010”?
Beg Sabur: Yes. They help us in other matters.
Meanwhile, the company “Komil 2010” promises to finish building a new office for the Communication Service on the 30th anniversary of Tajikistan’s independence (September 9, 2021). It will be a 30-storey administrative building in the very heart of Dushanbe, to the right of the monument to the founder of the Tajik state Ismoili Somoni.