Greek Police Detain Businessman over Forged BADR Mortgage

by Екип на Биволъ

Greek police arrested on March 5 (Tuesday) Georgios Lappas, who, according to notary Ioanna Andreadaki, had organized the forgery of a maritime mortgage on the tanker BADR in favor of Bulgargeomin.

The detention was made under a European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office in early 2018, the Greek newspaper Το Βήμα (To Vima) reports, citing a Greek police statement.

This means that the Bulgarian Public Prosecutor’s Office has known all details, but has kept silent on this case, even after the illegitimate occupation of BADR through fake documents ensnarled Bulgaria into an international scandal.

The claimant for the ownership of the tanker is Bulgargeomin Ltd, which presents itself as the successor of the State-owned company with the same name, but has nothing to do with it. All actions of Bulgargeomin before the Bulgarian courts and private enforcement agents, in their attempt to obtain the tanker, are based on this proven to be counterfeit document.

On December 22, 2018, the tanker was literally hijacked by armed guards of the unlicensed company “Bashev Team & Security” that also included active police officers dressed in the uniform of the company. This modern day piracy led to an international scandal and a vehement diplomatic reaction by Libya. The armed capture of the Libyan tanker by the Bulgarian authorities in the Burgas Bay was listed in reports by the US Office of Naval Intelligence as a pirate attack.

Instead of stopping this apparently criminal act, the prosecution remained inactive. State institutions even expressed support for the “pirates”, declaring their criminal scheme a “civil legal” dispute.

Bivol talked on the phone with notary Andreadaki as early as the end of 2018, and she confirmed her written complaint to the Greek Prosecutor’s Office describing how the fake marine mortgage had been fabricated. She also referred to the results of an expert report proving that her signature and seal had been falsified.


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Who is Georgios Lappas and how was the counterfeit mortgage prepared?

The arrested Lappas is 46 years old and married to a Bulgarian citizen, To Vima reports. In the Bulgarian registers, he is entered with the name Georgios Polykapos Lappas in connection with the companies Design Shops and GL Consulting companies, according to a check by Bivol. A person named Georgios Lappas is the creditor of another company of a Greek citizen and, at his request, there is a freeze on assets worth EUR 40,000.

Maritime.bg published the notary’s complaint to the Greek Prosecutor’s Office, detailing how the fraud had occurred. On August 24, 2017, Georgios Lampas presented himself to Andreadaki as a mediator between Bulgargeomin and the Libyan company Libyan Navigator, who had asked him to sign a Maritime Mortgage Agreement. She prepared the papers and handed the drafts to Georgios Lappas to show them to the Bulgargeomin proxies and the Libyan side. At one of the meetings he came with the representative of Bulgargeomin Assen Kavdansky.

However, the mortgage has not been signed as the parties have failed to appear on the scheduled day. According to the notary, the draft, which has remained with Lappas, has been forged later with Andreadaki’s signature and seal. An apostille from the court in Athens has been issued for the counterfeit. After learning about the fake document from a Greek colleague, the notary immediately, (on November 28, 2017), filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office.

Referring to precisely the above mentioned apostille, Bulgarian Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov announced that Bulgargeomin documents are legit, the maritime mortgage is valid and it was a “civil legal” dispute. This happened after the eruption of the scandal with the hijacking of BADR and the removal of its crew by a group of thugs with the help of border police and Maritime Administration. The Minister, however, failed to specify that Bulgargeomin has nothing to do with the former State-owned firm that had worked in Libya during the times of the Communist regime.

It becomes only now clear that the Prosecutor’s Office had known about the counterfeit as early as the end of 2017 and had officially requested the arrest of George Lappas in early 2018.

The press office of the Prosecutor General did not answer the questions about what have been the pre-trial proceedings that have become grounds for the requested EAW against Lappas and on what date this has been done.

On March 5, the Bulgarian National Radio reported that the tanker is already registered to a Liberian company, although the ownership has not been changed in the official registers.

“Titans”, former State Security agents and Investbank behind Bulgargeomin

The Bulgargeomin Ltd Association includes the companies Tectona, Moran Trade and Moran West. Formally it is managed by the individual Ventsislav Krastev from the western city Pernik, to whose name companies of Dimitar Yosifov, the well-known owner of the waste disposal and management company Titan, were transferred in the beginning of 2018 as well.

It was Yosifov who appeared before the Court of Appeals in Burgas as a proxy of Bulgargeomin, together with Kostadin Anakiev. They claimed that Bulgargeomin had bought in 1995 from the insolvent State-owned company Bulgargeomin a receivable from the Libyan company. Another proxy, Assen Kavdansky, appeared before the media. This is the same Kavdansky who has visited the office of the Greek notary together with Georgios Lappas.

He is also closely connected to the group linked to Tectona, according to the data from Bulgarian Trade Registry. The group involves amphetamine (captagone) trafficker Tsvetan Tsanev and Investbank’s banker Dimitriika Andreeva, who represents an “Omani investor” in the Bank.

In an earlier investigation by Bivol, in partnership with Italian colleagues from IRPI/ANCIR entitled “Mafia in Africa”, Tsvetan Tsanev appears as a European investor in a joint venture for diamond trade with a Cosa Nostra boss.

Attorney Tsvetan Tsanev is also a key figure in the “Venezuelan Laundromat” affair. According to the US authorities, hundreds of millions of dollars of the regime of Nikolas Maduro have passed through a lawyer’s account opened in Investbank’s on Tsanev’s behalf. The Greek newspaper To Vima also tells this story in the context of Lappas’ arrest.

Bivol’s investigation into the “Venezuelan Laundromat” showed that Tsanev is part of a complex business structure involving Russian oil companies linked to individuals from so-called “Bankya Circle”. One of these individuals is Dimitar Sabev, whose relative Nedyalko Nedyalkov is a Deputy Head of Bulgaria’s National Security Agency (DANS), the institution tasked with detecting cases of money laundering.

Asked to comment on these facts, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov ordered the Director of DANS to carry out a probe, which should be completed by now. However, the results have not yet been formally announced.

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