Bulgarian banker Petya Slavova has filed a lawsuit against the publisher and owner of the site e-vestnik Ivan Bakalov. This was announced by Bakalov, himself, in a publication in e-vestnik. Slavova, majority shareholder and Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of “Invest Bank”, is asking the journalist to pay her the sum of 100,000 levs for inflicted non-pecuniary damage.
The claim was filed in connection with a series of publications by Ivan Bakalov in April 2011, under the title “Kleptocracy”, however the claim has been submitted now, more than three years after the release of the publications. According to Bakalov, the possible cause for such late filing of the claim might be the murder, earlier in 2015, of businessman Borislav Mandzhukov. “He was trying to recover over 5 million US dollars stolen from his companies’ accounts in “Invest Bank”, says the journalist and concludes: “Mandzhukov’s murder means one less witness and Petya Slavova has possibly decided that this is a more appropriate time to sue e-vestnik.”
The Lending Institutions Act provides for hefty fines for someone spreading false information about a bank. Article 152a postulates that anyone who disseminates false information and circumstances about a bank, which undermines the bank’s reputation and credibility is sanctioned with a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 levs, and 3,000 to 10,000 levs for repeat offenders. If the violation is committed through mass media, the fine ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 levs and 8,000 to 20,000 levs for repeat offenders. If the violator is a legal entity (media outlet for example – editor’s note), a property sanction is imposed, ranging from 10,000 levs all the way up to 150,000 levs.
Petya Slavova is often called by media “the richest woman in Bulgaria”.
Ivan Bakalov announced a bank account and a PayPal account for donations to enable e-vestnik to afford lawyer fees and court costs. The full publication in e-vestnik can be found here (in Bulgarian).
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Journalists from the network for early response with the working title “Free Speech” are organizing a press conference in the case of the lawsuit against e-vestnik. It will be held Tuesday at 10 am in the press club of the public information agency BTA. There, Ivan Bakalov will present evidence in defense of his publications about Petya Slavova.
Petya Slavova: The claim is for 25,000 levs. I have nothing to do with Mandzhukov’s death
Petya Slavova said for Bivol that this was a civil claim against Ivan Bakalov for personal insults and slander, not against the media e-vestnik. Slavova’s claim, filed by lawyer Ivan Minkov, is not for 100,000 levs, but for 25,000 levs. She denied any connection with Mandzhukov’s death and is indignant that Ivan Bakalov is making biased insinuations about her regarding this death. Mandzhukov, she says, was known for a long tax-crimes rap sheet and posed as a “businessman” while it was not clear what exactly the business was. “Because I am woman, is it presumed that I cannot I defend myself?! Bakalov should submit the evidence in court,” said Slavova under her right of reply.
Petya Slavova promised to send her lawyer to the press at BTA conference on Tuesday, October 23rd, to show her original claim.
The Claim was sent to Bivol’s editors by Ivan Bakalov. Pages 10 and 11 show that the damage is estimated at 100, 000 levs, but Petya Slavova’s legal claim against our colleague is for 25,000 levs. It is specified that the amount is claimed as a “partial claim from the amount of 100,000 levs”. This is called a “pioneer case” in legal language. If won by the plaintiff, it is possible that a new claim will follow for the higher amount, but this is just an assumption. However, if the case is won by the defendant, the probability of subsequent proceedings in the same case is eliminated. When there is a smaller damage claim, the cases are tried by a lower Court instance, respectively the Court fees and the attorney’s fees that litigants have to pay are smaller.
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