Bulgarian EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva has submitted to date several declarations of conflict of interest in which real estate is also listed. A check ofr Bivol showed that two properties in Sofia have never been declared.
In her first declaration from January 28, 2010, she has listed a townhouse in Maryland, USA and two apartments in Sofia.
According to media reports (Bulgarian 24 Hours daily from April 2013) the house has a market value of 587,800 US dollars.
The declaration, however, does not mention a land plot of 900 square meters near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, in the village of Bistritsa, Pancharevo district, of which Kristalina Georgieva is a co-owner. Georgieva holds a notary deed for this property since 1970, according to a check in the Cadaster.
Bivol approached Kristalina Georgieva for clarification on the fact that the land plot has not been declared and received a reply that the said property was “inherited and is currently subject to legal proceedings. When the outcome of the proceedings is pending, the Commission does not require it to be declared”.
However, the legal proceedings began only in 2012, Bivol’s check showed. All statements of claim, having as subject property disputes, are registered in the Land Register, and the only entry in the file of Kristalina Georgieva for this property is from November 9, 2012 (number of 49725 from two entries for 2012 in the Registry Agency – Sofia).
Why wasn’t this property declared accordingly to the effective in 2010 Code of Conduct for Commissioners?
“Ms. Georgieva received exact information about the parameters of her property in 2011, shortly before the start of the legal proceedings,” people from the office of Kristalina Georgieva explained after we asked a specifying question.
Besides the inherited property, Kristalina Georgieva has not declared a
Newly acquired luxury property in Sofia
This is a single family house with an area 236 square meters, for which 606,000 levs were paid (without mortgage), shows a reference in the Property Register. The property was purchased in October 2012 by Kristalina Georgieva-Kinova and her daughter Dessislava Kinova.
The property is not listed in Kristalina Georgieva’s declaration from September 14, 2014. There also is no information on the transaction in the Cadaster, where the property is listed in the name of the previous owners.
According to the updated Code of Conduct for Commissioners from 2011, there is no need to declare properties that are “reserved for the exclusive use of the owner or his/her family”. In the previous version of the Code there was no such clause and everything had to be declared.
“The rules of the Commission (art. 1.3 of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners) do not require from the Commissioners to declare the property if they or their family members live there. They have to declare only properties that are owned with investment purposes. Since the properties owned by Ms. Georgieva have been used by her or her family for residential purposes, they are not listed in her declaration,” people from the office of Kristalina Georgieva explained.
So it turns out that the European Commission’s definition of “family” is much more expansive than the definition used in tax law where only spouses and minor children, who are not married, are counted as family members. Desislava Kinova is an adult and a professional.
The purpose of the rules in the Code is to ensure that in their work the commissioners fully look after the interests of the European Union; that is conflict of interest must be entirely eliminated. Therefore the definition of family is not relevant. The logic is that the use of this property for residential purposes by the relatives of the Commissioner does not lead to a conflict of interest and therefore ownership of that property would not affect the decisions he/she takes, a source from the EC explained.
However, it should be noted that commissioners are allowed interesting opportunities for acquisition of real estate for their “family”. If the transactions are concluded jointly with children and grandchildren, then a priori there would be no problem if the property is not declared.
In Georgieva’s batch in the Land Register, there is only one interesting fact in the column “Sales”. In 2015, she has sold together with her husband Kincho Kinov an apartment in Sofia on 46 “Dondukov” boulevard for € 100,000. It is probably one of the apartments listed in the declaration from 2010.
A check in the properties of the family shows that Kincho Kinov has inherited lands in the mountain village of Oreshak, near the town of Troyan. The daughter, Dessislava Kinova, is co-owner of a property on the Black Sea coast with businessman Ivo Prokopiev and one other person. This is a meadow of 8.5 decares near the coastal village of Varvara, acquired in 2003 for 20,000 levs.
There is no data in the Commercial Register about companies listed in Georgieva’s name, or in the name of her daughter Desislava. Kincho Kinov had a sole owner company that has been deleted.
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