The Mayor of the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Tsarevo, Georgi Lapchev, has submitted a report for the approval of a detailed development plan (PUP) for a 22-decare vacation village in the immediate vicinity of the pristine Silistar beach in the Strandja Nature Park and Natura 2000. The Tsarevo Municipal Council is to discuss the report on Friday, August 24. If it is approved, the coastal community will face a scandal comparable to that around “Golden Pearl” – the demolished illegal vacation village near Varvara, as the decision will be taken in breach of the law.

Mayor Lapchev’s report

This is because besides being located in Park Strandja and Natura 2000 and requiring an opinion of the Ministry of the Environment and Waters (MOEWs), the investment project violates an ordinance of the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW) not to approve a PUP before the adoption of a Master Plan (OUP) for the Tsarevo Municipality.

The coastal property has not been planned for development in territorial plans dating from 1998 and 2008. According to the last proposed version of the plan from 2018, no construction of vacation homes is foreseen in the area of Silistar, only of campsites, caravans, cottages and tents. But this plan has not undergone an environmental assessment and assessment of compatibility with Natura 2000, as also confirmed by eco-activist and Chairman of the Association of Parks in Bulgaria, Toma Belev.

In the past, the terrain has been used for the pig stalls of the former socialist-era cooperative farm, now in ruins. It is not a waterfront site, but it is located immediately behind properties acquired through illegal actions by persons and companies directly or indirectly connected with lawmaker Yordan Tsonev and architect Kalin Tiholov (see here), as Bivol’s investigation revealed. If this project is approved, this will create a precedent and other property owners will be able to take advantage of it, and Silistar will be completely built.

Bivol has turned to the MOEWs, sending it a letter requesting the Ministry to intervene with a compulsory administrative measure (PAM) in order to stop the illegal decision of the Tsarevo Municipal Council.

Who will build in Silistar?

Outline of the Silistar site, on which a vacation village will be built. Source: The Cadaster Agency

The proposal for a plan for construction of vacation villas has been submitted by the owner “New Building Estates”, which has acquired the property with an area of 22,169 square meters on July 30 from CIBank/United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) for BGN 435,172 or nearly 10 euro per square meter.

“New Building Estates”, with a capital of BGN 500, is owned by “New Building Properties” with a capital of BGN 100, which is a sole owner asset of Dessislava Tsvetanova Georgieva, born in 1984. She has been represented in the deal by Petyo Hristov Petkov, who is also her partner in several companies.

Dessislava Georgieva in an interview for Business Class

In an interview for the Business Class magazine, which appears to be an advertorial, the construction developer talks about a project for a luxury residential building in the Sofia suburb of Malinova Dolina. She shares her view of quality recreation: “Nature invigorates me,” says the young “construction star”. The same can be said of the many lovers of the nature at the site of the pristine Silistar beach on which she wants to build.

Dessislava Georgieva did not answer our emailed questions and did not return a call after we reached an assistant of hers from the company “New Building Property”.

So far, Georgieva and Petkov have not been an object of media interest, but some of their associates and business partners are well known and have a controversial reputation.

One of them is the Bulgarian Big Brother contestant Stefan Kemalov.

In 2008, Petyo Petkov and Stefan Kemalov were partners in the company “Megabuilding Group”. Dessislava Georgieva and Stefan Kemalov were co-managers of the company in 2013.

Kemalov’s shares in “Megabuilding Group” were seized by the Committee for Combating Corruption and Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Property, known as CONPI, after he was arrested in January 2008 in an operation against an organized crime group dealing with the fabrication of false IDs, false road tax stickers for trucks, elementary education diplomas and driving licenses. Later, the confiscation was revoked on appeal. Bivol did not find any information about an indictment against Kemalov. Apart from being a TV star, he has been a career politician linked to several political parties.

Another partner of Dessislava Georgieva is the Russian national with a Cypriot passport Igor Rimmer, who emerged in Moldova and Bulgaria as an investor violating the environmental legislation. The two had been co-owners of the company “PR Holding” in 2012.

Rimmer first acted in Bulgaria with a Russian passport, and then with a Cypriot one. The financial publication BANKER weekly (www.banker.bg) mentions him as one of the most significant shadowy businessmen in our country in terms of the number of offshore companies. Rimmer co-owns the “Sapphire Hotel” in Bulgaria’s largest summer resort “Sunny Beach”, where “PR Holding” is registered along with other companies linked to him and investors in Silistar.

An investigation by Bivol in 2016 revealed that Rimmer had managed to obtain an approval for a project to build luxury villas close to the protected site “Krushe” near the Bulgarian mountain town of Razlog without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The investigation also revealed that the Regional Inspectorate of the Environment and Waters (RIEWs) in the city of Blagoevgrad had issued a construction permit to the offshore millionaire on the grounds that the project “does not threaten the flora and fauna” in the area.

A joint investigation by RISE Moldova and Bivol exposed Igor Rimmer’s scheme in Moldova. The Cypriot had managed to acquire several hectares of land for agricultural purposes near the monastery of Căpriana with the help of his local partner, Boris Doneț. Throughout a number of Moldovan institutions, Doneț then managed to change the status of the land from farming to a right to build, although it is in a protected area.

An undercover journalist from RISE Moldova even “arranged” the purchase of a future luxury villa from Rimmer and Doneț at a cheap rate because of the illegal use of workers whose insurance and taxes had not been paid.

Express deal

The chronology of the acquisition of the property and the processing of the investor’s file by the Tsarevo municipality show a strange urgency by the institutions. The request of “New Buildings Estates” was submitted on July 5, 2018, and an extended Municipal Expert Council convened on the same day at 9:30 am with the participation of representatives of RIEWs Burgas, the Regional Health Inspectorate and the Regional Forrest Directorate, Water Supply Burgas and even the Navy. All voted unanimously for and with no objection to approving the construction in Silistar.

At this point, “New Buildings Estates” was not the owner of the property but had only concluded a preliminary contract with CIBank, which merged into UBB. The deal had not been certified by a notary until July 30, 2018, apparently after the future owner had become assured that there would be no obstacles to the realization of this project.

An interesting fact is that the UBB’s proxy in the deal was the insurance agent Krum Yordanov Bivolarski. On August 1, 2018, the next day after the sale of the plot, his father Yordan Krumov Bivolarski acquired the right to build in a building of “New Building Properties”. He paid only BGN 14,000 for an apartment of 60 square meters in the luxurious Malinova Dolina suburb.

Urbanized Silistar

Bivol studied the history of this property, now the site of the ruins of the socialist’s pig farm. For many years it had been farmland, but by Order RD-18-38 from July 10, 2012 of the Executive Director of the Cadaster Agency, it became an urbanized area for other types of construction.

The earliest owner of the property we found is the “Silistar-South” firm of the developer Plamen Beninski. In 2002, he sold it to “Evrobul Bulgaria Holding” for BGN 5,000.

It is unclear how “Silistar-South” had acquired the land prior to 2002, but the entry of the deal notes that the notary deed of “Silistar-South” had been “under paragraph 12”, which corresponds to a provision of the law on rights on land owned by the former cooperative farms.

“Evrobul Bulgaria Holding” had mortgaged the property at CIBank, which acquired it in 2015 through a public sale due to mortgage debts. The terrain has also been sequestered by the Tsarevo Municipality, probably due to unpaid taxes.

Minutes of the meeting on July 5, 2018

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