Bulgarian AgriMin Conceals Spouse’s Property Deals from Corruption Watchdog

Bulgaria’s Minister of Agriculture Rumen Porozhanov has failed to declare in his property declaration for 2017 a few very lucrative property deals sealed by his wife, a check by Bivol in the Property Register shows. Veska Porozhanova has acquired two apartments from her own company for BGN 240,000, which she has sold with a profit of BGN 160,000. Besides, she has acquired 14 decares of meadows in the Sofia suburb of Bankya for only BGN 2,180.

Veska Porozhanova was a partner in the company Armar Corporation General Technical Cooperation until May 29, 2017. On May 19, 2017, a deal was concluded for a sale by Armar to Porozhanova of two apartments and a garage with a total area of 176.7 square meters in Sofia for BGN 240,000 or BGN 1,358 per square meter.

In November 2017, Veska Porozhanova sold the smaller apartment of 65.8 square meters for BGN 152,554 or BGN 2,346 per square meter. This is also the real market price of the property.

In 2018, Porozhanov did not declare these two transactions in his declaration for the 2017 calendar year for acquired property, received income, given guarantees and expenses as a politically exposed person (PEP) in his capacity of Minister under Art. 37 of the Committee for Combatting Corruption and the withdrawal of illegally acquired property (KPKONPI) (sic) Act.

Porozhanova’s next deal happened in 2018 when she sold the larger apartment and the garage for BGN 247,412 or BGN 2,249 per square meter. This deal is subject to declaration by Porozhanov for 2019, but these data are not yet available on the KPKONPI site. There is another deal, concluded by Porozhanova in 2017, which her husband also failed to declare – 14 decares of land in Bankya, with the transaction being valued at BGN 2,180. Despite the low price, the Minister is mandated to list this acquisition in 2018 his property declaration for 2017 as it happened in the last days of 2017.

In the presence of such inconsistencies, KPKONPI should initiate an investigation and the Prosecutor’s Office should hold Porozhanov responsible for filing a declaration with untrue data. It is unclear why the Commission has not carried out an official check for compliance at the time of the filing the declaration, which is its legal obligation.

Porozhanov’s property status became a current even and a recurring topic after the site “19 minutes” revealed that in 2014 he has bought an apartment of 247 square meters at a price significantly lower than the market one. At that time, Porozhanov was not yet a PEP and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov defended him in a recent TV interview precisely on these grounds.

Borisov renewed his confidence in Porozhanov, who is also at the crosshairs for the approval of European Union (EU)-funded guesthouses that, it turned out, had been used by PEPs as private villas.

“I can say that absolutely everything I have owned in the last 20 years has been declared, legally declared, to National Revenue Agency and KPKONPI,” Porozhanov said upon leaving the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office. He was summoned there on May 9 to explain the abuse of EU funds in connection with another case at the time when the Agriculture Minister was Director if the State Fund Agriculture, the body tasked with distributing the EU farming subsidies and financing.

The documents, however, show that his words are not true. Porozhanov has filed a false declaration and has concealed a large amount of income of his wife from an apparently simulative deal by which she earned a large sum through the siphoning of her own company.

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