Bulgaria’s Chief Secretary of the Interior Shares Table with Individual Convicted of Financial Crimes

Svetlozar Lazarov, Arben Havalyov and his lawyer celebrate in a Russian restaurant

The Chief Secretary of the Bulgarian Interior Ministry Svetlozar Lazarov emerged as particularly close with the infamous businessman Arben Havalyov, convicted in first instance of VAT fraud, using false identity and exposed in illegally acquired property. Photos (currently unavailable), posted on Havalyov’s Facebook profile on December 10 last year, show him and Lazarov at the same festive table in the Russian restaurant “Peter the Great” on Positano street in Sofia. The pictures are probably not from 2014, but from an earlier period and seem to have been taken at a group event. They further show the prominent activist and candidate for Member of the Parliament from the political party “People’s Voice” (Vox Populi), Nikolai Yochkolovski. The latter has also been a trusted lawyer of Arben Havalyov and is present at the same table in the company of Lazarov and Havalyov.


 “Long leave the Chief Secretary of the Interior. Cheers!” reads Havalyov’s emotional comment under one of the pictures.

Havalyov is close to a businessman from the party largely representing the Turkish minority in Bulgaria – Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – and is associated with its infamous “circles of companies”. His name has surfaced in 2008, when it became clear that he and his sister are the formal owners of the super luxurious and expensive hotel complex in the resort village of Ribaritsa, “Casa Domini”. It is known as the local seraglio of the honorary lifetime Chairman of DPS Ahmed Dogan. Then a large-scale investigation was launched against Havalyov and his partners for VAT fraud, where he was convicted in first instance and received a three-year suspended sentence. Also then, the Commission for Illegally Acquired Property seized Havalyov’s properties. Havalyov was further sentenced to pay a fine of only 10,000 levs for proven tax fraud for about half a million levs. Typical Bulgarian justice! Subsequently, the Court of Appeals in Sofia overruled even this symbolic verdict and returned the case to the prosecution. It simmered there for four years and only last year it was again submitted in Court, but now all magistrates withdrew from the case. Thus, it ended in the Supreme Court of Cassations, which ruled in November to have the Sofia District Court handle the case.

Since 2010, all companies with the participation of Havalyov have ceased operations, a reference in the Trade Registry indicates. However, the “businessman” does not seem to be in financial need. He publically displays on social networks photo albums from the Maldives, Qatar and other destinations he has visited in the last two years.

Current Chief Secretary of the Interior, Svetlozar Lazarov, has been connected to other key figures from the underground. About a year ago, information circulated that he used to be the driver of the missing drug kingpin from VIS 2 – Metodi Metodiev-Ilienski (AKA Meto Ilienski). Lazarov denied it and said that this was true for another Chief Secretary of the Interior.

P.S. A few minutes after Bivol published this article, the access to the photos from Havalyov’s profile was restricted. Here’s how they looked. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Bulgaria’s Chief Secretary of the Interior Shares Table with Individual Convicted of Financial CrimesBulgaria’s Chief Secretary of the Interior Shares Table with Individual Convicted of Financial Crimes


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