Credit Suisse Rejected “Azerbaijani Laundromat” Money Wires to Kalin Mitrev as “Sensitive”

The financier admits to EUR 425,000, but has received less. Bulgarian Finance Minister keeps silent about the probe he promised.
by Екип на Биволъ

Two transfers of EUR 40,000 from the account of a company involved in the Azerbaijani Laundromat to a Swiss account of Bulgarian banker Kalin Mitrev have been rejected by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse and returned via Deutsche Bank. The bank refuses to state the reason for the return “due to the sensitivity” of the information.

The first rejected transfer was ordered by HILUX SERVICES LP to Kalin Mitrev’s Swiss account on December 18, 2013. However, the “Christmas gift” did not increase the balance of Mitrev’s account with Credit Suisse. The money was stopped and returned on December 23 through Deutsche Bank with an expressive note: BBK RETN FUNDS AS REASON HAS NOT BEEN SPECIFIED DUE TO SENSITIVITIES.

On December 18, 2013, EUR 40,000 were transferred from a Hilux Services LP account in Danske Bank’s Estonian branch to Kalin Mitrev’s account at the Swiss Credit Suisse bank. The transfer number is 1312185032422144

 

On December 23, 2013, transfer number 1312185032422144 was returned via Deutsche Bank with a note that the reasons for the “sensitivity of the information” will not be explained.

 

At the end of January 2014, there was a new attempt to transfer the same amount. It was also unsuccessful and was returned a few days later with the same note, which is used in a wide range of cases – from suspicions of terrorism financing to money laundering, depending on the context.

A new EUR 40,000 to Mitrev followed on January 27, 2014, under the number 1401275038214243

On February 4, 2014, transfer number 1401275038214243 was returned via Deutsche Bank without explanation because of the sensitivity of the information.

 

After the two unsuccessful attempts, finally there was a successful one for the same amount, but to the Bulgarian subsidiary of Allianz Bank.

After two unsuccessful attempts to transfer money to a Swiss account, EUR 40,000 were transferred to Kalin Mitrev’s Bulgarian account at Allianz Bank.

This transfer ran smoothly and it is the last one to be found in bank documents received by the Danish newspaper Berlingske and shared with a team of journalists from leading European media. All transfers to Mitrev’s accounts are listed in the table below:

METASTAR INVEST LLP MITREV KALIN 2012-10-11

Switzerland

-20 000,00
METASTAR INVEST LLP MITREV KALIN 2013-02-07

Switzerland

-20 000,00
METASTAR INVEST LLP MITREV KALIN 2013-02-08

Switzerland

-225 000,00
METASTAR INVEST LLP MITREV KALIN 2013-04-05

Switzerland

-20 000,00
POLUX MANAGEMENT LP MITREV KALIN 2013-10-25

Switzerland

-20 000,00
HILUX SERVICES LP MITREV KALIN 2013-12-18

Switzerland

-40 000,00
HILUX SERVICES LP MITREV KALIN 2014-01-27

Switzerland

-40 000,00
HILUX SERVICES LP MITREV KALIN 2014-02-11 Bulgaria -40 000,00

 

Kalin Mitrev – a very “sensitive” client

The reason for returning the transfer with such a note is serious enough. Obviously, the bank has conducted a check and decided that this wire was dubious.

The sum of EUR 40,000 is not that large to automatically trigger attention, but banks maintain lists of risk-bearing individuals and companies. Suspended transfers must also be reported to the special services, in this case – to the Swiss and German financial intelligence.

It should be noted that of the dozens returned transfers for which there is information in bank documents from the Azerbaijani Laundromat, only Mitrev’s have been given the explanation: “DUE TO SENSITIVITIES”.

In addition, the doubts caused by the transfers were not related to HILUX, but to Kalin Mitrev himself. This emerges from information on two other transfers to sensitive subjects engaged in political activity: on December 18, 2013, immediately after the transfer to Mitrev, money was wired to German politician Eduard Lintner, but it was not returned. On January 27, 2014, after Mitrev, the foundation of Italian politician Luca Volonte – Terra Nova – also received money, and it went through seamlessly.

Both Lintner and Volonte are linked to lobbying for the regime in Baku. Volonte is investigated in Italy for money laundering and trading influence. An investigation into money laundering is also underway by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office. Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov promised a separate audit by the National Revenue Agency (NRA).

The press office of Deutsche Bank refused to comment on the case after Bivol asked why the transfers had to be returned. Credit Suisse did not react to our questions sent as an urgent request.

The Bulgarian Allianz Bank has not yet commented on the situation with Mitrev’s Bulgarian account. In Bulgaria, banks require a declaration of the origin of money for all transfers over EUR 15,000, while the financial intelligence at the State Agency for National Security (DANS) should monitor transfers over certain amounts. Banks report suspicious transactions for which there are criteria set out in internal bank rules and regulations.

Payments for nearly USD 3 billion have passed through the Estonian accounts of the three companies METASTAR, HILUX and POLUX and they came from companies associated with the Azerbaijani regime. USD 29 million has come from the Russian arms firm Rosoboronexport. This money has been used to buy lobbyists services from European politicians and luxury goods and to enrich senior Azerbaijani officials and politicians, as the investigation called “Azerbaijani Laundromat”, revealed*.

Baku rejected the accusations of money draining and money laundering and blamed the media that disclosed the data, saying this was a conspiracy masterminded by Soros and Armenian lobbies. A similar position was taken by the Kremlin regarding Rosoboronexport payments.

Kalin Mitrev claims that he has received the money for a contract with an Azerbaijani company – Avuar-Co – in the period when he did not work at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). His wife, Irina Bokova, who is Director General of UNESCO, said she was unaware of her husband’s consulting business and rejected suspicions that payments relate to the organization’s activities. The facts, however, show she had been on official visits to Baku in her capacity of Director-General and had been officially accompanied by her husband to events and meetings with the ruling family under the aegis of the world organization.

Why is Mitrev admitting to EUR 80,000 more?

If we subtract the two failed transfers of EUR 40,000, the amount received by Kalin Mitrev as consultancy fee drops to EUR 345,000.

Nonetheless, in his statements in the media, including a written explanation to Finance Minister Goranov, Mitrev does not at all contest the larger amount – EUR 425,000, and claims he has paid taxes on it in Bulgaria. His public answers do not make clear the amount paid to him for his consultancy contract with Avuar-Co for hydrostrategic activities related to dealing with the consequences of floods in the Kura-Aras river basin and their prevention.

This may mean that he had received money through other channels, other accounts and different entities. So far, the probe into Mitrev’s tax status has not been finalized, according to a reply from the Ministry of Finance, which refers to the NRA for a more detailed response. The answer also states that the EBRD has not replied to the letter sent by Vladislav Goranov in which he asks what needs to be done with Kalin Mitrev.

In a statement to the Guardian and other media, however, the press secretary of the ERBD has unequivocally stated that the decision to recall Kalin Mitrev is entirely in the hands of the Bulgarian government.

The following media worked on the Azerbaijani Laundromat project: Berlingske (Denmark), OCCRP, The Guardian (UK), Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Le Monde (France), Tages-Anzeiger and Tribune de Genève (Switzerland), De Tijd (Belgium), Novaya Gazeta (Russia), Dossier (Austria), Atlatszo.hu(Hungary), Delo (Slovenia), RISE Project (Romania), Bivol (Bulgaria), Aripaev (Estonia), Czech Center for Investigative Journalism (Czech Republic), and Barron’s (US)

 

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