A solid sequence of public facts connects the people involved in the deal to sell the Bulgarian assets of Czech State-owned electric power utility, CEZ, with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. A joint investigation by Lidove noviny and Bivol reveals key links in the chain leading from Prague to the Sofia suburb of Bankya, where Borisov’s home is located.

Nikola Molchan, who has been investigated three times for murder, is part of the team of the Bulgarian buyer Inercom. He is translating during negotiations between CEZ and Inercom. Molchan is a financial executive in a company owned by Maya Hristova from MM Group, who is close with the owner of Inercom, Ginka Varbakova. Hristova registered a company in Prague, MM Global s.r.o., on September 21, 2017 – just on the eve of the negotiations for the sale of CEZ’ assets in Bulgaria. Nikola Molchan, who had later become an official participant in the negotiations with Inercom, was appointed Chief Financial Officer.

On the other hand, Maya Hristova is a long-time business partner of Peter “Pepi” Lashov. According to recordings from the #Yanevagate scandal, published by Bivol, Lashov is one of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s most trusted people and regularly plays cards with him at the PM’s home in Bankya. In the past, Borisov and Lashov also had infamous common partners /see here/.

 

The article by Lidove noviny about the relationship between Nikola Molchan and Maya Hristova was published in the Wednesday, March 28 issue. Unlike previous publications of the newspaper, this time the information was completely ignored by the Bulgarian media that are following the CEZ deal.

The Bulgarian news site ClubZ was the first to report Molchan’s presence in the talks between Inercom and CEZ, citing two independent sources. This fact is now officially confirmed by CEZ Group. Molcan had translated during meetings between CEZ and Inercom, held in Prague, the group’s spokeswoman Alice Horakova told Lidove noviny in a reply to reporters’ questions.

Lidove noviny also reveals that Molchan had been investigated in the Czech Republic for the murders of his girlfriend and his own father, but charges had not been pressed because of lack of enough evidence.

Molchan – a trusted person in circles close to SIC and Inercom

Nonetheless, the role of the Czech man, who also has Bulgarian citizenship, is not just one of translator and interpreter. For years, he has been a close associate, partner and confidant in business circles around SIC and Inercom, whose trail leads to Prime Minister Borisov.

 

From left to right: Slavcho Varbakov (husband of Ginka Varbakova), Marin Hristov (Maya Hristova’s son), Maya Hristova and Ginka Varbakova

Maya Hristova, together with her son Marin Hristov, owns a group of companies named MM, dealing with luxury car and real estate sales, leasing, insurance, restaurants, and construction. The upscale office building on the Sofia beltway, located just across from the Boyana Residence of the Bulgarian president, belongs to them.

Inercom’s offices are in the exact same building. They had been bought at the beginning of 2017 for BGN 1.5 million from the company MM World, of which Maya Hristova is sole owner.

The Varbakovi and Hristovi families are obviously maintaining a close relationship, as shown on Maya Hristova’s Facebook page. Socialite archives keep the memory of a lavish charity event organized by Hrisotovi, which was also attended by one of the former owners of the Sofia shopping mall “Paradise Center” – David Mihajlovic. His partner, Paata Gamgoneishvili, a Russian oligarch of Georgian origin, was named by Lidove noviny as part of the Inercom’s financing scheme in the CEZ Bulgarian assets deal.

Besides Varbakovi, Maya Hristova is close to the famous restaurant and high-end nightclub owner Petar “Pepi” Lashov. A reporter of the Bulfoto Agency had taken a photo of him as early as 2006 at the opening ceremony at the new office of MM Group where he had been present with his wife and children.

On the other hand, the relationship between Hristova and Lashov has very specific business dimensions as well. Lashov’s company “PL BG” is an investor in a building on 79 “Belovodski Pat” on a plot owned by the company MM Development. This is visible on the construction site sign from March 2012.

 

The investor in the building constructed on the land owned by MM Development is Petar Lashov’s “PL BG”.

 

After finishing the building, “PL BG” sold to MM Development five apartments and 11 parking spaces in it for just over BGN 1 million. MM Development is jointly owned by Maya Hristova and her son Marin Hristov. Subsequently, MM Development resold some of the properties to other individuals and legal entities close to the group, which in reality makes the building a property of co-owners close to each other.

“I’m going with Pepi to Bankya”

Petar Lashov is one of the protagonists in the #Yanevagate recordings as they reveal that he is a frequent visitor of Prime Minister Borisov’s home in Bankya and they play cards together. The participants in the recorded conversations are disgraced former judges Vladimira Yaneva and Rumyana Chenalova and attorney Momchil Mondeshki. In one of these conversations, the latter offers to meet Boyko Borisov through an intervention by Lashev, or as he calls him – Pepi Lashev, in an attempt to help Yaneva.

The recordings do not make it clear who the other card players are, but Mondeshki claims that Lashov had regularly invited him to “go up there”.

“I am going to get Pepi and go to Bankya; they are playing cards there every night,” he says

In the sequel of this recording, the participants focus on Borisov’s relationships with some ladies, to whom he had not been “indifferent”. Some of these relationships had been discreet, but his love affair with one of these women, named Maya, had been well-known to many in the powerful circles to which Vladimira Yaneva (VYA), Rumyana Chenalova (RCH) and Momchil Mondeshki (MM) belonged at the time.

VYA: It is a fact that he has a positive attitude towards certain women; towards some of those that he has been with.

MM: Certainly.

VYA: Now, there was one, he bought her a house in Barcelona for a million and a half euro. There is another one, she walked around clad in Scervino, I forgot her name, what was her name, she was the wife of one of his very close friends from the “Tomcats” circle, I cannot think of her name at the moment.

MM: Yeah

VYA: Anyway. She was his protocol. And, even though she was the wife of a close friend, he started a love affair with her, but in a sense, I do not know if they are still together, if they have broken up, I have no idea. I cannot tell you what happened.

MM sighs.

VYA: But he certainly had special feelings for her. In a sense, this was not just for one bang.

MM: Yeah (sighs).

VYA: However, half of Sofia knew about Maya.

MM: Yeah.

VYA: Which is terribly unpleasant, I must say, after all.

RCH: Terribly.

VYA: After all.

The identity of the Maya in question, about whom half-Sofia knew, has remained unclear, but there were media publications at the time linking her to Maya Hristova from MM Group.

Protagonists with dark past and present

All of the protagonists listed here so far: Nikola Molchan, Maya Hristova and Petar Lashov have had troubles with the law and links with organized crime.

Petar Lashov is seen as one of the heirs of the murdered crime boss Georgi Iliev. Iliev was shot dead by a sniper at the “Buddha Bar” in the summer resort of Sunny Beach on August 25, 2005, around midnight. The “Buddha Bar” nightclub chain is owned by Lashov, and he was standing right next to Iliev at the time of his execution. Lashov also has a business partnership with the infamous Iraqi national, Samir Iskander Francis, who was also partner with Boyko Borisov in their joint company “Prayhim”. Besides Borisov, the Iraqi was also partner with another infamous figure from the underground – Zlatko “The Barret” Ivanov. This group turned out to be embroiled in illegal trafficking of amphetamines in the Middle East and, subsequently, in the kidnapping and shooting of two Bulgarian drivers in Iraq 14 years ago. Francis became quite wealthy through property swaps at a time when Borisov was Mayor of Sofia.

Nikola Molchan has managed in the past the company Rakov Dol Projects, which Dnevnik daily described in 2004 as connected with the SIC group. The partners in the project had been part of the structures of the group; one of them is Georgi Kogelov, who has had a joint business with Valeri Yosifov, former chairman of the SIC supervisory board.

In the 1990s, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov also gravitated around this group, as revealed by an article in the Capital newspaper from November 1995, accompanied by a photo. In it, he is seen with Rumen “The Pasha” Gotzov Nikolov, with whom he had a joint business in the company Teo International. The company ran an illegal cigarette factory in the Black Sea town of Kraimorie, which had been raided and closed by the anti-mafia police a few months prior to the taking of the picture, in March 1995, following an investigation by current Bivol Director, Assen Yordanov, then published in Standard daily.

 

An article about the illegal factory of Borisov and “The Pasha” and the anti-mafia police operation in Standard daily from March 1995.

Bivol discovered another interesting link around Molchan, leading to Borisov’s closest circles. His brother Vladimir was a partner in the company “Europeum Sofia” with Georgi Kolarov Panov, who, in turn, was on the board of the Association “Bulgarian Council for Sustainable Development” with Tsvetelina Borislavova, a longtime partner in life and live-in girlfriend of Borisov.

According to media publications, Maya Hristova has also worked in the past as an insurance broker in structures close to SIC. A year ago, her name appeared in police reports. In April 2017, the MM Group offices were raided by the Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime (the anti-mafia GDBOP unit) in an anti-tax and money laundering operation led by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office. Since then, no further information has been provided on the progress of this investigation.

Her name appeared in the media last October as well, in connection with the kidnapping of 25-year-old Adrian Zlatkov, son of the wealthy businessman, Toni Zlatkov – a competitor of Maya Hristova. Borisov personally and urgently formed a task force at his own home in Bankya to solve the case.

Why the father of the abducted young man went personally to the home of the Prime Minister to seek help, remains a mystery, but the fact that Toni Zlatkov is a business partner of notorious Dimitar “Mitko The Karate Player” Stefanov, a former member of CEZ Bulgaria’s Supervisory Board and manager of a company owned by “The Pasha”, can probably explain the mobilization of such emergency tasks force at the Prime Minister’s headquarters. The case remains unsolved, but the young man was released in good health after his family paid a hefty amount of money.

“CEZ Committee” is ignoring the facts, for now…

On the very first day after it was announced that Inercom had bought CEZ’ business in Bulgaria, Bivol published information that Ginka Varbakova’s husband had had business relations in the past with the close to SIC former model Evgenia Kalkandjieva. We recalled the fact that Dimitar Stefanov was for years a member of the Supervisory Board of CEZ Bulgaria and reminded of the links between “The Pasha” and Borisov.

 

The intertwining surrounding the CEZ deal raise serious questions to Prime Minister Borisov. Click on the graph to enlarge it.

Minutes after our publication, which became viral on the Internet, the Prime Minister reacted from Brussels. Borisov told journalists that he had requested the resignation of Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova because she had known Ginka Varbakova.

Petkova commented modestly that with her resignation she was protecting the good name of Prime Minister Borisov. No media asked the question of what this resignation should be protecting him. In the days that followed, it became clear that connections with SIC remain taboo for Bulgarian media, with few exceptions. Bivol, however, will continue to investigate the dark side of this scandalous deal that will determine the future of millions of Bulgarian citizens.

Following the establishment of the ad-hoc parliamentary committee to investigate the CEZ deal, Bivol’s editorial office forwarded to it a series of questions, which, after two sessions of the Committee, remain unanswered. We have no information either on whether our questions had been discussed.

Next week, the Committee will hear Prime Minister Borisov. Our newest disclosures raise new, very serious questions that we will also send to the Committee.

 

***

Радваме се, че стигнахте дотук. Ако намирате, че статията е интересна и полезна, можете да ни подкрепите, за да продължим да правим независима разследваща журналистика.

Платете Данъкъ Биволъ!

Можете да се включите с PayPal, банкова карта (Visa или Master Card), Epay.bg, в брой през EasyPay, през банкомат с B-Pay или с банков трансфер. Приемаме и криптовалутен данъкъ в биткойн или друга криптовалута.

This post is also available in: Bulgarian Russian