The sign with currency exchange rates is not visible from the street. You enter the narrow office and your eyes are drawn to the first row, where the exchange rate of the euro is usually listed. The large numbers 1.95 catch your eye. But if you decide to exchange your euro, they will sell it to you at 1.85. Because the first line is the exchange rate for the day of Hong Kong dollars or Slovak koruna and the euro is down on the list and is with its daily rate at which you will buy it or sell it. This is your problem; you should have looked more carefully…

Табелата с курсовете на обменното бюро на Рейт-2000 на Пиротска 1. 15 декември 2014.

Табелата с курсовете на обменното бюро на Рейт-2000 на Пиротска 1. 15 декември 2014.

These fraudulent exchange bureaus await citizens and guests of Sofia around the Halles (Sofia’s central indoor market – editor’s note) – at the corner of Exarch Joseph street and Maria Luisa boulevard, at the entrance to Pirotska street and in several locations on the main pedestrian Vitosha boulevard. They are open late and are branded in the most vivid colors and signs of Western Union. One of them is just across the street from the Courthouse that is supposedly housing the “sanctum” of supervision of legality – the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office. They are “showing the middle finger” both to deceived clients and the law, because they are absolutely illegal.

The owner of these exchange rate offices is the company Rate 2000 of someone named Kalin Petkov Russev. Years ago he was fined for faking the logo of Raiffeisenbank, which speaks enough for his reputation as a financial broker. His current company has the status of a “financial house” and was listed in the register of exchange bureaus on September 30, 2014 – “the deadline by which all financial houses that trade currency in cash had to register with the NRA” – the tax agency explained upon request from Bivol.

“From 2012 on, until now, due to both signals and planned campaigns, 12 operational checks of facilities of that company across the country have been carried out, but the results of these checks are confidential by law and we cannot reveal them to you,” reads the response from NRA, which, however, surprisingly states:

“NRA has repeatedly sent signals to BNB about this company.”

Since NRA has sent signals to the central bank (Bulgarian National Bank, BNB), they were hardly praise and encouragement for the practices of Rate 2000. Bivol also sent a signal and questions to BNB, but received no reply.

Rate 2000 – illegal financial house with the blessing of NRA and BNB

It turns out that Rate 2000 has operated and continues to operate now absolutely illegally as a financial house. It was operating illegally earlier, because at the end of November 2014, when we carried out the investigation, the company was included in the list of non-banking financial institutions, but had only 50,000 levs in capital. At that time, as non-banking financial institution, in accordance with Regulation #26 of BNB, Rate 2000 must have had at least 250,000 levs in contributed capital. Why hasn’t BNB revoked the license in the presence of such clear violation? And why has NRA entered the company as a currency exchange one, after it did not meet the capital threshold set by the Regulation? Why is Rate 2000, which after our questions to BNB was deleted from the register of financial institutions with BNB Order-05354 from January 19, 2015, continuing to operate to this day? On what grounds, since its license has been revoked?

These are not 64,000-dollar questions and their answers are clear. These are the same reasons over which the BNB Governor Ivan Iskrov has not yet resigned after the collapse of the private Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) or the reasons why Nelly Kordovska managed to withdraw her “fat” deposit from CCB after she, herself as supervisor, closed the bank and did so after business hours in a “completely legal” way. BNB is blind-eyed to the ongoing plundering of First Investment Bank (FIB) over the same reasons as well.

This is because BNB is the hangout of institutionalized clueless thugs, working in the interest of outright crooks. If you do not believe the above, then visit the so-called “financial house” Rate 2000 to exchange your money and keep the receipts as souvenirs. On its part, Bivol is keeping as evidence a video of the exchange process, in case some institution might still decide to end this lawlessness.

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