Bulgarian Ruling Party Top Functionaries Acquire Posh but Cheap Apartments in Sofia

The company Arteks has sold apartments at questionably low prices not only to Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Deputy Chairman of the ruling party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and former Interior Minister, but also to Justice Minister and former Speaker of Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva and to lawmaker and former Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, both also from GERB, according to entries in the Property Register.

The deals have been concluded in the summer of 2018. Tsetska Tsacheva, together with her sister, has acquired 198 square meters for EUR 670 per square meter. A company of Vezhdi Rashidov has paid slightly more – EUR 856 per square meter for 116 square meters in the same building and has acquired another apartment in a new building on “Tintyava” Street, all in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

On Tuesday, March 19, Free Europe announced that Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who is also the leader of GERB’s parliamentary group, has acquired a luxury apartment with a private VIP elevator and a separate garage for two cars at the price of EUR 627 per square meter, which is much lower than the market one. The market prices for housing in this Sofia neighborhood start at EUR 2,600 per square meter, while the condominium building where Tsvetanov’s apartment is located is among the most exclusive in the capital.

According to details, revealed by Free Europe, this acquisition happened through a swap where Tsvetanov exchanged two apartments for the one in the “Arteks” building. On the same day – June 12, 2018, the two apartments were resold by Arteks to the former GERB IT expert and member of GERB’s election campaign management, Simeon Velkov.

However, relations between Arteks and prominent GERB functionaries don’t stop here. A month and a half later, Tsetska Tsacheva and her sister Irina acquired from the same company an apartment of 198.7 square meters and a 20 square meter garage at 20 “Yuri Gagarin” Street in the Iztok (East) district for just BGN 285,740 leva, which is EUR 670 per square meter, a little more than what Tsvetanov has paid. The Minister of Justice owns 3/4 of the property, and her sister 1/4.

Tsetska Tsacheva has acquired an apartment at a much lower price than the market one

It is easy to verify that this price is very low. Only a month before the deal with Tsacheva, a completely identical apartment in the same building (with a slightly larger garage) was sold for BGN 65,000 more. However, this client has no relationship with GERB. According to an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Fund, the difference between the market price and the price paid by Tsacheva and her sister is at least EUR 2,000 per square meter.

Video: Anti-Corruption Fund

Bivol also checked other Arteks deals with apartments in the same building. All of them have been sold at higher prices than the apartment sold to the Justice Minister.

Rashidov also acquires not one, but two cheap apartments

Another prominent GERB official with cheap apartments from Arteks is Vezhdi Rashidov, who heads the Parliamentary Committee on Culture. His company “Rashidov Properties” bought a day before Tsetska Tsacheva, on July 26, 2018, an apartment of 112.2 square meters in the same building for BGN 187,432 or EUR 856 per square meter.

Bulgarian Ruling Party Top Functionaries Acquire Posh but Cheap Apartments in SofiaBulgarian Ruling Party Top Functionaries Acquire Posh but Cheap Apartments in Sofia

But that’s not all. Two months later, on September 29, Rashidov’s company bought another Arteks apartment, in another newly-built building on “Tintyava” Street. There, “Rashidov Properties” paid BGN 140,819 for an apartment of 75.41 square meters plus a garage 18.2 square meters or EUR 776 per square meter.

Miryanov – folk patriot and “Manager of the Year”

The construction companies in the Arteks Group are controlled by Vessela Miryanova and architect Plamen Miryanov. There is no evidence that they have won public procurement or European funding. In 2017, architect Plamen Miryanov was elected “Manager of the Year”, writes the close to the government newspaper 24 Chassa (24 Hours) in a glorifying article. Plamen Miryanov also made headlines as the organizer of the patriotic folk dance (horo), where in August last year the dancers waded in the protected “Kidney” Lake in the Rila Mountain.

The Miryanov family. Photo: 24 Chassa

Bivol continues to investigate the property entries of the Arteks Group companies, which have hundreds of new property deals. It is hardly a coincidence, however, that four key GERB figures – Tsvetanov, Tsacheva, Rashidov and Velkov have been able to benefit from deals with the companies of the Miryanov family, concluded at questionably low prices.

It is noteworthy that in the case of Tsvetan Tsvetanov a dormant company was used which had no activity until the day of the deal. On June, 12, 2018, the Miryanov family first sold the apartment to their own company ARTEKS ENGINEERING 2000-5 Ltd. for BGN 560,000, then the company swapped it for the two apartments of Tsvetan Tsvetanov for the amount of BGN 286,654, plus a BGN 100,000 as an additional payment, and finally sold the two apartments to Simeon Velkov for BGN 470,000. There is no explanation for these fluctuations in the price of the same property within just one day. It is also unclear why Tsvetanov simply did not sell his apartments directly to his former subordinate Velkov, and why the Miryanov family did not make a deal for their own property directly with Tsvetanov.

Until now, Tsvetan Tsvetanov is the only one to publically address the issue. According to him, everything has happened in a legal way and he sees nothing wrong in the deal for his apartment.

On Tuesday, the civil movement “BOETS” (Fighter) submitted a signal about Tsvetanov’s apartment to the Prosecutor’s Office, the National Security Agency (DANS) and the Committee for Combatting Corruption and the withdrawal of illegally acquired property (KPKONPI) (sic), calling on the institutions to investigate corruption and abuse of power. The Prosecutor’s Office said they had received the alert and had launched a probe.



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