Authorities Provide Cover-up for Prosecutor General’s Villa

How is it possible for a 60-square-meter building on paper to grow up to 140 square meters before being sold to Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov? The Peshtera Municipality rejected with a tacit refusal Bivol’s request, filed under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), to receive a copy of the construction papers. Nevertheless, publically available documents speak of illegal construction, as well as unusual rushing and circumventing the law to resolve a case that is unpleasant to the Prosecutor General – the home he wanted to acquire did not have regular building papers.

Building right for 60 square meters, end result – a building of 140 square meters

Sotir Tsatsarov and his wife Meglena acquired on November 26, 2018, a vacation home in the resort of St. Konstantin with a built-up area of 139.75 square meters. They paid BGN 58,674 or the equivalent of EUR 30,000. According to numerous testimonies and documented studies, the same villa had been listed at a double price before Tsatsarov got hold of it, revealed an investigation by Bivol.

Developer Kostadin Dzharov from Peshtera is the prior owner of the villa. Before him, it was owned by other persons who had been granted a right to build by the Peshtera Municipality. However, this right is for a building of 60 square meters and not of 140 square meters. Bivol restored the chronology of the transactions according to the notary documents and the entries in the Property Register:

• On April 20, 2005, the Peshtera Municipality granted the right to build to Ivan Yakofov and Georgi Vassilev for a villa in the St. Konstantin resort with an area of 60 square meters. The property was bought at auction and the price paid by the two winning bidders was BGN 2,000. They were mandated to build a villa within five years.

• On September 10, 2008, Ivan Yakofov and Georgi Vassilev sold the building rights to Kostadin Dzharov. There was no change in the area – 60 square meters, but the winners of the auction lost money because they sold their right at a tax assessment of BGN 282.10.

According to Google Earth pictures, the construction of the villa has started in 2010. The latest available photo is from 2016 and it shows that the villa is finished to its current state.

Before Bivol, Stefan Levashki, Chairman of the Plovdiv Bar Association, said the villa in its current state has been built prior to 2016. He knows the area because he has is an inherited property there and was interested in buying the same villa. He was asked to pay EUR 70,000. Real estate agencies reported to Bivol the same price range for other similar villas in the resort.

In the Cadaster, this property is marked as “villa building – single-family, number of floors 2, built-up area 75 square meters. Here, there is also a discrepancy with the established right to build for 60 square meters.

By 2014, and by 2016, the only document on the basis of which the construction was carried out is a Building Permit No. 52 issued on May 14, 2009, by the Peshtera Municipality. It is possible that this document can dispel the doubts that illegal construction has been carried out, but it turned out that it is secret. Bivol requested it under APIA, but the Peshtera Municipality failed to provide it with a tacit refusal after the expiry of the 14-day deadline. What is so secret in the building permit in question that makes the Peshtera Municipality conceal it so stubbornly? We suppose that if it was legitimate, the local government would hardly classify it.

However, it is logical that since the right to build in 2008 was explicitly for 60 square meters, it is not possible for the construction permit in 2009 to be for 140 square meters. One can draw the conclusion that between 2009 and 2014, Kostadin Dzharov built 80 square meters more than he had the right to.

Express legalization

In summary, by the autumn of 2018, the villa had a 140-square-meter built-up area with a documented right to build for 60 square meters of total living area. An experienced lawyer like Tsatsarov and his wife, a notary, would hardly buy a property with such a set of documents.

In order to obtain perfect documents for the villa, the authorities got mobilized and acted with record-breaking speed, shows the sequence of events prior to Tsatsarov acquiring the property.

Thus, on October 23, 2018, , the district governor of Pazardzhik issued a new right to build for “upgrading a building extension and an extension with an area of 80 square meters”.

Bivol requested the contract for this right to build under the APIA, but the regional government also refused to provide it, citing interests of third parties, in this case, Kostadin Dzharov, who had refused to grant the document.

However, the contract is available at the Registry Agency, from where it can be obtained without a request under APIA.

This document, signed by the current Regional Governor of Pazardzhik, Stefan Mirev, states that Dzharov is the owner of a legally built building with an area of 60 square meters. He is entitled to build extensions and structures on another 80 square meters or a total of 140 square meters.

Thus, in 2018 Kostadin Dzharov acquired the right to build something that has been built years ago. However, according to the Territorial Planning Act, there is no way to legalize a building that has been built without the necessary documents. There is serious information blackout imposed by the institutions of the executive power regarding the luxury villa of the Prosecutor General in the St. Konstantin resort.

A month later, on November 26, 2018, an act was issued with which Dzharov and his wife became owners of the property. An Act 16 allowing the use of the building was issued as well.

Thus, according to the paper trail, in only three weeks, between October 23, 2018 and November 12, 2018, Dzharov built 80 square meters, which is downright impossible. The ACT 16 is also classified. The Peshtera Municipality refused to provide it under APIA in violation of fundamental rules of any genuinely democratic society that defends public interests.

Cheap villa in the administrative swamp

Approached for comment Kostadin Dzharov confirmed that he had sold the villa at a price of EUR 30,000, being adamant that no one can sell such a vacation home for EUR 70,000.

It takes another EUR 30,000-40,000 for finishing works,” he estimated. This means that the two-story luxury villa costs only 214 euro per square meter of living space. A price that is even below the cost of construction activities in such an area, according to the estimation of construction experts.

On site, it is visible that even now there are finishing works in the villa and around it. Similar villas in the resort are currently priced at EUR 70,000.

On the questions of legalization of the construction, Dzharov replied that everything had been perfect, but because there was a legal dispute over the ownership of the site between the municipality and the State, he found himself in a situation of an administrative Paragraph 22.

To clear everything document-wise, after the State eventually won the case, Dzharov had taken the necessary steps before the Regional Governor ahead of the sale of the villa to Tsatsarov. Therefore, he had managed to obtain documents certifying that he owns a villa of 140 square meters.

There are cottages built 20 years ago – the same thing. For something already finished, they issue you a construction permit. Ask the local government why,” is how he summed up the situation and indirectly confirmed the suspicions about the construction of the villa.

A case similar to KPKONPI’s terrace?

If it turns out that the construction permit, which the Peshtera Municipality is hiding, is only for a 60-square-meter building, then formally more than half of Tsatsarov’s villa could be illegally built.

Therefore, he will be in the situation of the Head of the Committee for Combating Corruption and the withdrawal of illegally acquired property (sic) (KPONPI) Plamen Georgiev, for whom Bivol revealed that he had bought an apartment with a large terrace for a price bellow marker and failed to declare it. After the revelations, Georgiev took an extended leave but did not resign.

Plamen Georgiev explained that the terrace was “undivided share” in the building, although he was the only one to use it. Because of this, he “earned” the nickname “Patso (Plamen) The Terrace Georgiev” while the Sofia Municipality launched an inspection.

The inspection found that the canopies on the terrace are illegal, but this was done by the previous owner. By law, however, Plamen Georgiev, as the owner of the illegal sites, is now mandated to demolish them voluntarily, and if he refuses, the Municipality must demolish them on his behalf. The Sofia Municipality has already served Georgiev an act of finding illegal canopies, but he is appealing it before the Administrative Court.

Whether Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov will find himself in an identical situation for being the owner of an illegally built villa, is yet to be seen after all the building documents are made public.

Chief puppeteer of the backstage rule

Bivol investigated and exposed the shady property deals and connections of Judge Sotir Tsatsarov before he was appointed Prosecutor General in 2012 (see the Tsatsarov archive here). Then, all the political power, represented by the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, used its influence and resources to make him Prosecutor General. To this day, the media of controversial lawmaker and businessman Delyan Peevski sing his praises. Tsatsarov is “untouchable” and immune when it comes to his allegedly corrupt affairs. He practically has sole power over the Prosecutor’s Office, despite all of the revelations of unacceptable abuse of power in a series of scandals such as the #Yaneva Gate one, along with several others, unraveled by Bivol. The Prosecutor’s Office never investigated the evidence of high-level corruption, just how Bivol had obtained the Yaneva Gate recordings, for example. One of Tsatsarov’s loyal subordinates even demanded full control over Bivol’s servers in France in an attempt to close our media. In recognition of his loyalty, he was appointed Head of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, which is mainly involved in hits against inconvenient people.

In response to Bivol’s investigations, the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations launched speedy pre-trial proceedings against Assen Yordanov and Atanas Tchobanov on a fake (anonymous) complaint that cites an anonymous slanderous publication in a print media controlled by Delyan Peevski. The repressive actions against Bivol were immediately condemned by Reporters Without Borders and other international journalist organizations. In Bulgaria, however, the active measure against Bivol takes place with the cooperation and complicity of the executive power to protect the subjects of our investigations and provide a cover-up for their corrupt practices.


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