The road to the object of our investigation is closed by a barrier with a sign “Construction Site”, closely watched by guard and a dog. Heavy trucks pass, but the construction itself is hidden from public eye. Only from the sea one can notice how an impressive palace has been sprouting in the last two months on the shore of park “Rosenets”.
In April this year, Jérôme Fenoglio, the current editor-in-chief of French Le Monde, accompanied by journalists from Bivol, visited the same place, which is located next to the Russian enclave “Rosenets.” He spoke about what he saw in extensive article entitled “In Varna and Burgas, Labs of Russian Networks on the Bulgarian coast“.
“From its strategic location in the heart of the Bay of Burgas, the group has a view on the movement of the nearby NATO base, which seems less protected than the oil base. The only concession was made after the publication of an article in L’Express in 2011, following which Lukoil provided free access to a small marina that had long been annexed. Assen Yordanov walks there and jokes: “Here is the only small piece of free Bulgaria,” Fenoglio wrote then.
The joke, however, proved premature. In April, there was no sign of construction in the yacht port. But only a month earlier, on March 19, 2014, the company Hermes Solar Ltd has acquired land plots of a total 8173 square meters and three buildings for about 1.706,247 levs, according to a reference in the Property Register. These lucrative lands have been prepared for construction in late 2013 with a detailed territorial plan approved by the Burgas City Hall on the proposal of Mayor Dimitar Nikolov (from the centrist party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB). 175.5 decares from the former vacation home “Rosenets”, belonging to a company with Russian owners – “Straight Line” – have been regulated for resort construction.
After the purchase of the land, “Hermes Solar” hastily obtained a building permit from the Burgas Municipality and during the summer, the contractor “Glavbolgarstroy” began to pour the concrete for the future seraglios.
Representatives of the State National Construction Control (SNCC), approached by Bivol, said that everything in this site is completely lawful and legal. The naked eye can see, however, that the five floors in the central part of the building are beyond the parameters set by the Development of the Black Sea Coast Act. But in order to see them, one should approach the site from the sea because the road is closed. The fact that a municipal road is blocked by a barrier and public access is limited is also normal to SNCC as the closure has been approved by the architect of the Burgas Municipality. Officially, this is done to secure the construction site. The achieved effect, however, is a private enclave on the coast, well hidden from the eyes of common people.
A Company of Ahmed Emin’s Secretary
At first glance, the ownership of Hermes Solar shows no emblematic figures, but closer scrutiny reveals that until recently it belonged to the former secretary of the late Ahmed Emin – Hayrie Suleiman Hadzhiyska. (Emin was one of the major figures in the party largely representing the Turkish minority in Bulgaria – the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS. His body was found in the afternoon of October 17, 2008, in the Sofia quarter of Boyana, in a notorious estate, allegedly belonging to the former and current lifetime Chairman of DPS, Ahmed Dogan, and the death was ruled suicide, though people close to Emin did not agree with it – editor’s note.) On July 24 this year, Hadzhiyska has transferred her majority stake of 85% to Snezhana Karamfilova Karova. This happened a month after the central bank, the Bulgarian National Bank, took control of overstretched private lender, Corporate Commercial Bank, KTB, and coincided with the start of the construction.
“Hermes Solar” Ltd. has two loans from KTB, a research, done by Bivol, showed. The first loan dates from March 2012 and is in the amount of nearly 12 million levs. It has overdue interest in the amount of 100,000 levs. According to the terms, this loan must be repaid by 2016 in monthly installments of about 500,000 levs.
The second loan is for nearly 7 million levs. It has been approved in July 2013 and has 50,000 levs in overdue interest. This loan matures on September 20, 2014.
How were these loans secured? A reference in the Property Registry indicates just one collateral in the form of a mortgage on a land plot in Sofia, evaluated by KTB at 5.2 million levs.
These defaults and the impressive debt are obviously not bothering the company as, at this very moment, it continues to pour millions into the super luxury site. And while Emin’s secretary is building a small private enclave, next door to the big Russian oil enclave with money from KTB, current DPS leader Lyutvi Mestan categorically denied any connection between DPS and KTB.
Meanwhile shady DPS lawmakers Delyan Peevski and Yordan Tsonev are writing a Bill on the bank, with care for investors – large and small, whose frozen accounts are footing the bill for the luxury mansion.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian