In a press release distributed to the media, First Investment Bank (FIB) accuses Bivol of lying. The allegations of First Investment Bank’s involvement in fraud with EU funds in Romania are a lie. This is evidenced by official documents and reports of the competent authorities, is written in the press release.
FIB refers to the Romanian Prosecutor’s Office official announcement of the arrest of three Romanian nationals, officials from the Agency for Payments and Interventions in Agriculture, APIA, (analogue of the Bulgarian State Fund Agriculture). It does not refute in anyway Bivol’s publications.
Bivol cites in its investigation another much more authoritative and important official document. It is the rule of the Criminal Court in Bucharest from October 6, 2015, in case number 35889/3/2015, for 60 days detention for three Romanian government officials.
The rule states that Romania’s National Anticorruption Department (DNA) has established the following: Bulgarian Ivan Tanev, son of former Agriculture Minister Georgi Tanev, had actually controlled VM Corporation through the following intermediaries – attorney Snezhana Stoykova, Mila Georgieva, Stefka Stoeva, Nikolay Velinov and Vesselin Lafchiev who have been in Romania in connection with the tender procedure for deliveries of flour and cooking oil. The DNA investigation, with the help of OLAF, has established that these persons concluded contracts fraudulently with false documents, in an inaccurate and incomplete trade procedure, and were assisted in this by employees of APIA and an employee of the Bulgarian bank FIBANK which issued the bank letters of guarantee.
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It is evident that the Romanian prosecution has done its job; it has established the APIA employees who were involved; they have been arrested and charged. The investigation, the establishment and the indictments of individuals connected with FIB who have been accessories to the crime is not the job of the Romanian prosecutors, but of their Bulgarian colleagues. However, they have not done anything. The fact that until now the Special Anti-mafia Public Prosecutor has not initiated proceedings on the base of our investigations and the documents presented in them is bewildering.
Acting on the principle of “the thief is crying stop the thief”, First Investment Bank insists that it was the one that has submitted a signal to OLAF and the Prosecutor’s Office in 2013. However, this trick has not worked because the indictment of DNA is crystal clear – FIB, which is claiming that it is helping law enforcement, is itself involved in the fraud
In its investigation Bivol asked a few simple questions that we will repeat:
- Why Bulgarian investigators or OLAF failed to check the allegations (see here) of the nominal owner of VM Corporation Valeri Petrov that his company’s seals were kept in the head office of FIB and that he has been brought there by Vesselin Lafchiev to sign contracts? Does this mean that de facto FIB had controlled the company and had prepared and stamped documents on its behalf?
- Why isn’t anyone checking the connection between Mila Georgieva (arrested in the case “Killers 6” and listed in the indictment of the Romanian Prosecutor’s Office) with FIB’s majority shareholders Ivaylo Mutafchiev and Tseko Minev? It is a proven fact that Mila Georgieva has bought an apartment from Ivaylo Mutafchiev (see here). It is also a proven fact that Bulgarian companies with offshore owners, managed by Georgieva, have received millions in loans from FIB (see here) It is a fact that the owners of offshore companies are persons who are connected with Tseko Minev’s and Ivaylo Mutafchiev’s business.
- Why isn’t anyone checking evidence of money laundering through a FIB account of the company BRANDEL SENT which was receiving huge amounts in cash – 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 euro that left on the same day to accounts of offshore companies associated with the owners of the Bank, or to accounts of companies controlled directly by their relatives. A lawyer in Cyprus, who opened and closed the account in Bank of Cyprus where 19 million euro have been transferred and subsequently disappeared, has also received money from the same BRANDEL SENT account (see here).
If the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office investigates and sheds light on these matters, it will become clear whether and how FIB has aided the criminal scheme, as the Romanian prosecutors insist. Why is this not being done? Is there a political cover-up and pressure on investigators to ignore the evidence leading to FIB and its owners? Why did the prosecution drop the charges against FIB for granting unsecured credit to VM Corporation? To use the vocabulary of some magistrates – who issued an order not to “finish” FIB? Is this WHO an MP? Did his undeclared business obtain loans from FIB and does he have in FIB a personal account with 900,000 levs which he has never declared?
We remind that FIB has been sentenced in Romania and by the Bulgarian Court (see here) to pay the bank guarantee for VM Corporation, but the Bank refused to do so and is trying to exert an unacceptable pressure on the independence of the Bulgarian court.
Bivol has always complied with the strictest standards in journalism and has never published statements that are not supported by documents or at least by two mutually independent sources. Our media has an established international reputation; is quoted in the most prestigious global publications and is cooperating with them in international investigations. The specific investigation in the theft of the 26 million euro from Romania was conducted jointly with the investigating center Rise Romania.
Rise Romania and Bivol are members of the prestigious network of investigative journalists – the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is synonymous worldwide with investigative journalism quality and standards.
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