In February 2005, Ivan Danov founded a company in Bulgaria. At the same time, he was registered as unemployed in France and received welfare.
On Thursday, in the morning talk show “The Day Begins” on the public TV BNT, the Ambassador of France H.E. Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes confirmed that the Minister of Investment Planning, Ivan Danov, has received unemployment benefits in France in 2004-2005, for which he was supposed to appear in person in the Labor Bureau each month. De Cabanes stated that there will be a probe in the employment history of Minister Danov in Bulgaria during the same period and the embassy could serve as a link between the competent French and Bulgarian authorities. He said, however, that it remained unknown whether Danov worked at the same time in Bulgaria and it was too soon to hold him responsible.
Host: I will use this opportunity to ask you about the case with Ivan Danov, the Minister of Investment Planning, and about his bank account, in which, as it emerged, he received welfare in France in 2004-2005. As you know, he rejected accusations that Paris is investigating him for welfare syphoning. Is there, after all, some kind of verification by the French government?
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Ambassador De Cabanes (speaking in Bulgarian): So, what I currently know, Mr. Danov received between the end of September 2004 until April 2005, roughly 14400 euros as unemployed. To obtain this amount he had to… (turns to the interpreter – to respond to subpoenas?)
Interpreter: He had to appear…
De Cabanes: To appear in person in these employment offices every month. To appear before our agency for the unemployed, which, at the time, was named ANPE (National Agency for Employment). Every month or every two weeks or every week, it depends; I do not know exactly… and it depends on the particular case. Whether he has worked then, at the same time, in Bulgaria, I do not know.
Host: These were the main grounds for criticism.
De Cabanes: Yes.
Host: How does the French system, the French administration, detect such abuses like duplication of unemployment benefits?
De Cabanes: The problem is that so far we don’t have, and at that time … you know, it happened almost 10 years ago. We did not have an agreement on the exchange of data between our ministries of labor or our unemployment agencies.
Host: So, it is easier now to make such checks?
De Cabanes: I think it is now easier to conduct such checks and maybe … we will do one in this case.
Host: In this case, who would you check? Would you work on tipoffs from politicians, public figures, or the system works so as to verify automatically…?
De Cabanes: The system works, how to say, on its own. The system works and will make checks. If they need us, the embassy can provide all data on the employment of Mr. Danov at the time, during those nine months; they can use us as, how to say, a channel for information, as a connection.
Host: Do you think Ivan Danov should be held liable now for this matter?
De Cabanes: It’s still early, I think, we do not know all details.
Host: How about the probe of the French administration that is ongoing?
De Cabanes: I know nothing about it. I have no information besides the one Mr. Danov’s lawyer gave us that day.
Nearly eight months after the original publication of Bivol, which revealed that Ivan Danov has made false declarations to the French social services, and four months after the publication in the most popular French weekly L’Express, the investigation machine might be finally set in motion. Danov, himself, fueled it by loudly bringing the topic back on the agenda at a press briefing in the presence of retired French policemen, presenting them as official state representatives, which they are not.
Two days ago, Bivol submitted an official claim in the Labor Bureau, which lists the facts about unemployment benefits received by Danov and the evidence that he was not entitled to them because at that time he lived and worked in Bulgaria. Yesterday, the Acting Head of the Anti-Fraud Directorate of the Labor Bureau, Ms. Rejane Biolet, confirmed via email that the claim has been received and they have started working on it.
In the claim, Bivol explicitly identifies the services which can provide official information about Danov’s residence and his employment history in Bulgaria. He, himself, is not denying that at the end of 2004 he has returned to his previous job of lecturer at the University for Architecture, Construction and Urban Planning in Sofia, and that in 2005, he has founded an architectural firm. Employment data about Danov can be requested form the “Human Resources” office of the University for Architecture, Construction and Urban Planning. As for the architectural firm – the documents in the business registry are public and they show that on February 18, 2005, Ivan Danov has signed a document before a Bulgarian notary public, establishing the firm “Architect Danov and Partners,” registered before the Court on March 10, 2005.
The company of Ivan Danov and Iliya Lazarov was registered on March 10, 2005.
Ivan Danov received 1738 euros in unemployment benefits in France in April 2005.
The French Embassy may also request data from the Ministry of Interior – Border Police – about Ivan Danov passing through Bulgarian border checkpoints during this period as a detailed reference on them may be issued. Since in 2004-2005, Bulgaria was not yet an EU member, all entries and exits from the territory of the country were registered in the Ministry’s database. Such report will also make it clear that Danov has not met the residence in France clause to receive welfare, as from September 2004 to June 2005, he has been outside Bulgaria for just two or three weeks.
These facts, compared with the overriding requirement for the unemployed to appear in person in the Labor Bureau each month, highlighted by Ambassador de Cabanes, lead to the categorical conclusion that Danov has submitted false declarations which brought him profit. In the Bulgarian Penal Code, this is an offense under Art. 212: “those who use documents with misleading content, or a false or forged document to obtain without legal ground movable or immovable property with the intent to appropriate it, shall be punished by imprisonment of two to eight years.”
Although the offense was committed in France, since the perpetrator is a Bulgarian citizen, Bulgarian judicial authorities, under the Penal-Procedural Code, are mandated to examine it (Art. 37, paragraph 1, item 2, says that in the case of a crime committed abroad by Bulgarian nationals, they are under the jurisdiction of the court of residence of the respective individual). As prosecutors closed their eyes to data in media publications, implicating the Minister, on March 4, Bivol filed a claim with the Supreme Prosecution Office of Cassation (Ref. № 2703/2014). The claim is deposited with the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office (Ref. № 4089/2014), which is the only body empowered to investigate ministers.
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