On Friday, in a response to a parliamentary question from independent MP Velizar Enchev regarding the censored part of the plan for the restructuring of First Investment Bank (FIB), Vladislav Goranov transferred the responsibility to the European Commission:
“The European Commission, not the Minister of Finance, is the authority that adopted and published the decision, including making the final assessment on what can be considered confidential information and should be deleted from the public version.”
Bivol immediately asked the Commission whether the Minister’s words are true and received the following response from its spokesperson Ricardo Cardoso:
“• The Commission has an overriding interest in making public the full substance of its decisions. As a general principle, requests for confidential treatment can only be granted where strictly necessary to protect business secrets or other confidential information meriting similar protection. The Commission also has an obligation to safeguard business secrets and other confidential information.
• It is up to the Member State concerned to indicate the information that it believes is covered by the obligation of professional secrecy and provide a justification in respect of each part for which non-disclosure is requested. The Commission will then examine the request from the Member State.”
In the public version of the restructuring plan there are 152 (one hundred fifty-two) deletions. Entire paragraphs and data in tables have been deleted. According to the EC, the Bulgarian government had to explicitly indicate these passages and justify their confidentiality.
If the Minister of Finance, as Goranov claims, was not involved in this process of identification and justification of the deletions, then the question WHO in the government did it arises.
We remind that on December 2, 2014 the press center of the Ministry of Finance wrote in response to a request by Bivol the following:
“There are three parties in this case and before the disclosure of the public version of the decision and the disclosure of any element of the commitments could break the confidentiality of elements representing a business secret. The Bank is the addressee of the decision, which is why it should define what a business secret is and what is not.”
Thus, according to the Minister of Finance, it appears that FIB decides which information on State aid should be concealed; the European Commission approves, while Goranov, you see, has nothing to do with it. It is a known fact that the European Commission communicates these issues with the Bulgarian government, and not directly with third parties. Moreover, in the decision of the European Commission for State aid, it is written in black and white who is committed to the plan:
COMMITMENT CATALOGUE – CASE SA.39358 (2014/PN) – RESTRUCTURING PLAN OF FIRST
INVESTMENT BANK (FIB) – BULGARIA
From Republic of Bulgaria
Bulgaria commits, not FIB and the “banksters” who have drained it and were rescued with State aid. And all communication on the issue is running through an official government channel, as is clear from the title page of the document that shows the name of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Mitov.
The question of WHO is lying in this story has a clear answer: Goranov is lying!
He hardly has any other option, because as revealed in an investigation of Bivol, Goranov personally signed the government’s commitments (Commitment Catalogue), which included the infamous paragraph 18, half of which has been deleted from the public version.
According to a source of Bivol in the Ministry of Finance, the missing text is as follows: “As an exception, Fibank is authorised to exercise the call options on its perpetual debt in August 2015 (EUR 27 million) and March 2016 (EUR 21 million) as not doing so would imply a step-up in the rate
The above entitles FIB to redeem as an exception bonds for 100 million levs with the money from the State aid. Or so to say, a State gift is being offered to some anonymous bondholders. What requires the State to engage with this and to explicitly request an exception to the rules on State aid? Are those persons, who will collect the taxpayers’ money, known?
So far all institutions remain silent on the matter, while the Minister even dared to lie from the parliamentary tribune, and frame the European Commission. Bivol submitted to the Ministry of Finance a request under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) to disclose the full text of the restructuring plan of FIB. On grounds of public interest, if necessary, we will file lawsuits until we obtain the full text that incriminates the government in defense of someone’s private interests and in serving an oligarchic criminal group.
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