People from private lender First Investment Bank (FIB) were very worried and have offered to raise money for a fund to save the former President of the Sofia City Court (SCC) Vladimira Yaneva from being “finished”. They have asked to whom and how much should be given. The proposal has been discussed with attorney Momchil Mondeshki, who then has told Yaneva about it.
In the latest leaked recording, Yaneva laughingly replies that the money must be brought directly to “Boyko” (Boyko Borisov is Bulgaria’s second-term Prime Minister – editor’s note). In earlier published conversations from the saga #Yaneva Gate, it was mentioned that “Ceco is exerting strong pressure on Boyko” and “Boyko is pressuring the Prosecutor General to remove Yaneva”. The reply of the then-Head of the most important court in the country showed that-#WHO could decide singlehandedly and terminate at his will all her misfortunes.
Mondeshki: I talked with the people from FIB and with others, cuz they all are very worried about you. They said to go ahead; tell them how much money to raise, some fund to save you. They are all willing to establish a Salvation Fund; they are asking who should be paid and what should be paid. Come on, everyone is willing to give money.
Yaneva: They should go to Boyko and take it there.
Mondeshki: This morning I sent them all away. FIB, everyone else is waiting.
Bivol has asked a question to the spokesperson of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov whether the latter has had contacts with representatives of the Bank on issues related to the “finishing” of Vladimira Yaneva. To date, there has been no reply.
This recording is the first one from the series # Yaneva Gate which refers specifically to money and bribes – corrupting the highest echelons of power. We learn clearly and directly how decisions are being made in the country; what is the mentality of the people who manage the judiciary and the real mechanisms and ways to control key events in our socio-political life.
Who are the people from FIB?
Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev are the owners of FIB and majority shareholders in the bank. Tseko Minev is also a public figure and the Head of the Bulgarian Ski Federation. Mutafchiev is more discreet. For him, there is information that he was raised and grew up in Africa in the family of a diplomat, who had this job due to a distant kinship with Bulgaria’s Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov. Mutafchiev was exposed as an agent of the Communist secret service – the State Security – with the codename “Kamen”.
The two bankers are banned from managing banks because of the bankruptcies of Agro Business Bank and First Private Bank in the past. But there is no obstacle to owning one. FIB, which is also branded as FIBANK, is known as a “bad apple” bank, about which it is written in a classified US diplomatic cable that it deals with money laundering from criminal activity and “is now considered to have one foot in the legitimate retail world ) it is known as one of the most aggressive and “polished” banks ) as well as one in the murkier criminal realm”.
In a series of investigations, Bivol has proved (see here) that the Bank is being drained through unsecured and non-performing bad loans that finance organized crime groups involved in contract killings, drug trafficking and smuggling (see here). We have uncovered a criminal connection and suspected complicity in the theft of 26 million euro provided by the European Commission to the Romanian Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture (APIA) for food supplies to the poor. FIB has guaranteed that amount to a destitute Bulgarian – Valeri Petrov Miloradov – in order to have his company become the winning bidder of the EU funds in APIA’s public tender.
Miloradov admitted before Bivol of being a “proxy” and selling his identity, while all documents and stamps of his company are being kept at the FIB headquarters. His company won the tender; the food was never delivered and the money disappeared into offshore accounts and was stolen. The case is investigated by the Special Public Prosecutor in Romania and by OLAF. In Bulgaria, the Office of Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov and other specialized institutions such as the National Security Agency and the Interior Ministry are covering-up the crime and refuse to investigate
The people from FIB – darlings of every government
After the collapse of Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), FIB is considered to be the Bank of the Power, where companies associated with the controversial lawmaker and media mogul Deliyan Peevski transferred their loans (see here). Meanwhile, the old and the new leadership of the central bank – the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) – are concealing scandalous audit reports from 2012 and 2015, proving a capital deficit in FIB worth billions and the presence of huge bad loans granted by the Bank (see here).
Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev have excellent relations with governments, whatever they are. Their Bank was rescued twice with State aid – the first time during the term in office of the government of Socialist Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, with another former Prime Minister – Plamen Oresharski – as Finance Minister. The second rescue happened in 2014 under the government of Plamen Oresharski, reaffirmed by the second government of Boyko Borisov.
One can judge how valuable the people from FIB are for the people in power from the lack of any reaction by the prosecution after the publication of evidence of criminal draining of the Bank. The numerous violations and abuses of money of depositors in this Bank are also well known to BNB as its supervision has established them and has described them in its report, but BNB has not undertaken anything to end them. The facts from the BNB audits remain hidden not only to the public but have not been disclosed to the European Commission and the European Central Bank two years ago, when Bulgaria requested permission for the rescue of FIB from bankruptcy by granting generous state aid in the amount of 1.2 billion levs.
Moreover, the business operations of the people from FIB in the ski sports are enjoying generous government support. The State pours millions each year to organize ski competitions in the winter resort of Bansko, while the concession fee to use the territory of the National Park “Pirin” is meager. The associated with FIB concessionaire company “Yulen” is a major lobbyist for expanding the ski area and the construction of a new cabin lift and it has not happened so far only because of the decisive response of environmentalists.
Because of his skiing activities, Tseko Minev is frequently posing for photo ops with members of the executive, including Prime Minister Borisov, President Rosen Plevneliev and the Minister of Sports Krassen Kralev. The candidate of Borisov’s ruling Citizens for European Party (GERB) for President and current Speaker of the Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva and former GERB Interior Minister and GERB lawmaker Tsvetan Tsvetanov (the believed Ceco from the recordings – editor’s note) even participated in rallies to protect the interests of the people from FIB. These protest rallies were in support of the expansion of the Bansko Ski Zone, which was built in violation of the law and has irreparably damaged the National Nature Park “Pirin”, which is under the protection of UNESCO.
Former GERB Economy Minister Traicho Traikov, an avid skier, who is now a right-wing presidential candidate, has also appeared on photos with Minev. Asked about his relationship with the banker and with banks “bad apples”, Traikov said that the pictures were part of the protocol, and he never had and does not have the powers of a Prosecutor General, whatever that means.
Allocation of cases – the foundation of judicial corruption
Later on, the conversation between Mondeshki and Yaneva turns much more serious and reveals what is at stake if Yaneva is to be suspended. They are two – permission (warrants) for the secret services to use Special Surveillance Devices (SSD), mentioned in the previous conversation, and the “random” allocation of cases. The loss of control over these two key prerogatives by the Head of the City Court had seriously bothered the people from FIB, and more generally – everyone.
In her conversation with Mondeshki, Yaneva explains how after her looming suspension, the Court would become a “mess”. The next in seniority in the Court was “Bonnie” (Bogdana Zhelyavska), but the Justice Minister at the time, Hristo Ivanov, had submitted a request for her disciplinary removal over violations in the random allocation of cases.
APIA’s claim against FIB to recover the millions for which the Bank has issued guarantees to the homeless Valeri is a prime example and proof of the importance to have FIB’s case tried by the right judge. The case with the most importance and the greatest material interest was assigned precisely to “Bonnie”.
APIA’s claim, which Bivol has obtained, shows that there is a court decision in Bucharest that is threatening the Bank with blocking its accounts if it refuses to pay 22 million euro. The request for enforcement has been sent to SCC. There, Bogdana Zhelyavska somehow managed to allocate it to herself and, subsequently, to rule in favor of the people from FIB.
This, of course, is not the only case in the SCC related to material interests of the people from FIB and “everyone else”. This is precisely the explanation for the anxiety of the corpulent bankers and their willingness to “save Private Yaneva” through the intermediary Mondeshki, who should say “who should be paid and what to pay”.
Crime in two countries related to trading influence?
The conversation shows in black and white that the people from FIB were preparing to bribe the government, maybe even with State money, because at this moment the billion loan from the budget to save the bank had not yet been repaid. According to the Penal Code, bribery and even the intention of it is a felony and the prosecution should immediately and on its own initiative launch proceedings into the evidence from the recordings published by Bivol! The nervous laughter of the participants in the conversation can be attributed to the fact they all have law degrees and are fully aware of what they are talking about and how many years in prison they deserve.
The practice of bribing magistrates is associated with the one of bribing media through expensive advertisements and paid promotional campaigns.
We currently do not know who the “others” are, according to Mondeshki, but it can be assumed that these are individuals and entities associated with the Bank on the one hand and personally with Vladimira Yaneva on the other, partly because she obviously knows them. Given the common concern and interest, especially in the “allocation of cases”, an objective probe can easily identify the main players in the fundraising rescue operation.
Listen to the recording here (in Bulgarian):
Listen to the processed against noise sound file here(in Bulgarian):