From left to right: Gérard Zerbi, Rémi Thuau, Ivan Danov and Nikolay Kostadinov, photo by the Ministry of Investment Planning

Bulgarian Minister of Investment Planning, Ivan Danov, failed to include in his annual declaration the French account with accumulated unemployment benefits, an inquiry of Bivol showed. Media reported earlier out that he has “refunded the amount” of 10,000 euros, but a careful reading of this information shows that the money is not in a bank account abroad, but in Bulgaria.

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A year ago, Bivol revealed that between September 2004 and May 2005 Ivan Danov unlawfully received unemployment benefits in France, while he lived, taught and was doing business in Bulgaria. Every month Danov had been submitting false information to the French Employment Services and this way he obtained about 14,400 euro.

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The Ambassador of France H.E. Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes confirmed in a TV interview that the Minister of Investment Planning Ivan Danov has indeed received unemployment benefits in France, for which he was supposed to appear in person before the Employment Services every month. De Cabanes said he would instigate an inquiry in the employment of Minister Danov in Bulgaria during the same period.

Danov, himself, did not deny before media that he had received the money, but claimed he was unaware of the deposits and had even forgotten about this account. He complained that the account had been drained and alerted French authorities about it.

Danov further failed to declare the French account when he took office as minister. His declaration, submitted at the end of 2013, lists an account abroad with 135,000 euro. This amount, however, exceeds by much the one in the French account he claims he had forgotten.

Therefore, the foreign account exists and the Minister is still required to declare it Bulgaria. As this has not been done, by law the National Audit Office has to act and initiate a probe in Danov’s foreign assets, which should be carried out by the National Security Agency, DANS. The National Revenue Agency, NRA, also has something to say in this case because it is not clear whether taxes on this money have been paid in France and whether they are due in Bulgaria.

It should be noted that the Minister cannot be prosecuted in France as the French law includes a five-year limitation for false declarations and it has expired. But under Bulgarian law, the same offense has a ten-year limitation and Danov is investigated by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office.

The French Employment Services, however, are in no hurry to investigate Danov over the illegal welfare and to ask for reimbursement of the money. The limitation period for recovery of unduly paid amounts is ten years and will begin to expire in September this year. Despite the proverbial sluggishness of the French State Administration, a year of feet dragging is not a normal period for such cases of high public interest. According to Bivol’s insider information, the case is personally monitored by the Head of the “Preventing and Combating Abuse and Sensitive Cases” unit, Rejane Biolet. The result of the monitoring is simply a deadlock…

Comment of Bivol: Egalite, Fraternite … Liberte for “Our Man”

The reason for this passing of the ball by the French side, on the backdrop of available evidence and undisputed facts, can be found in the following theory – Ivan Danov is protected by the French Ministry of the Interior, which is in charge of counterespionage. It is likely that Danov has been offered a deal – to be the “ear “of the French in the Bulgarian government in exchange of sparing him inevitable resignation and delaying the public disgrace from being charged by the French State and the dragging throughout his career of the “the image of petty crook” (the qualification is from a French publication on the subject).

Retired former Head of the French berets, Gerard Zerbi, now Head of the public-private company CIVIPOL, is acting as Danov’s “lead officer”. In recent months, Zerbi has often been spotted in Bulgaria and even appeared at a joint press conference with Danov, although he apparently has no relation to investment planning.

Ivan Danov has another month to manage his made-up Ministry, but after that the political cover-up will fall and his deeds will cease to be “sensitive”. The question remains whether an investment in a person with “the image of petty crook” and the information received from him would justify the dented French image of a pillar of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary?

Why is France relying on “his SOB*” and is protecting him from legal sanctions? There are examples of French citizens prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the same offense as the one committed by Ivan Danov – abuse of unemployment benefits.

This is a clear case of “double standard”. All fundamental constitutions, declarations, charters and proclamations say that no matter of their public status, one must obey the law. Measures against former President Nicolas Sarkozy, unless they are politically motivated as well, and the inaction against Danov are both examples of this. Theoretically, the same measure is applied for a minister and for a homeless person and the punishment is measured by the same standard. Egalite (equality) before the law, chéri (darling); the rest is all wrong.

*”We know that he is a son of a bitch, SOB, but he is our son of a bitch,” is what US President Roosevelt said about dictator Somoza Sr., who was supported by the US Administration.

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