Kalin Mitrev “Removed” from Important EBRD Decision on Azerbaijan

by Екип на Биволъ

The Bulgarian representative to the Board of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), who was tangled in the “Azerbaijani Laundromat”, has been removed from the decision-making process for a USD 3.1 billion loan to Azerbaijan, Danish daily Berlingske wrote today.

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Berlingske is the source of documents from Danske Bank’s Estonian branch, exposing the Baku regime of laundering billions through offshore companies. Part of the money has been used to pay European politicians to lobby in favor of President Aliyev’s regime. Kaline Mitrev, husband of outgoing Bulgarian UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and Bulgarian representative to the EBRD, has received EUR 425,000 in Swiss and Bulgarian bank accounts, according to the investigation conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), as well as leading international media such as The Guardian, Le Monde and Zuddeutsche Zeitung (see here and here).

The loan granted by the EBRD to Azerbaijan is for the construction of the TANAP pipeline, part of the southern gas corridor. This project is a priority for the European Union because it will reduce dependence on Russian gas. The EBRD Board of Directors approved the loan, but the Bulgarian representative Kalin Mitrev had not participated in the meeting.

A spokesman for the EBRD has confirmed to Berlingske that Mitrev’s removal from the decision-making meeting has been a direct consequence of the disclosure about the money received by Mitrev through the “Azerbaijani Laundromat”.

 

Mitrev’s lawyer: “Prosecutor’s office will soon clear his name”

Kalin Mitrev’s London-based lawyer, Sarosh Zaiwalla, has told Berlingske that his client has decided to withdraw from the vote on the Azerbaijan loan in order to avoid any doubt of a conflict of interest.

In addition, Zaiwalla has said that a quick conclusion of the investigation by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office and the National Revenue Agency (NRA) was expected and it would clear Mitrev’s name of “offensive allegations in the press”.

So far, there has been no official outcome of the probes initiated by Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov and the NRA. Bank transaction data, analyzed by Bivol and the partner media in the project, reveal that two of the transfers to Mitrev’s Swiss account have been returned by Deutsche Bank without explanation because of “the sensitivity” of the information. This means that Mitrev’s financial relations with suspicious offshores have been picked up by German and Swiss financial intelligence.

The European Parliament (EP) (see here) also decided to launch its own probe into the “Azerbaijani Laundromat”. However, the majority of the Bulgarian MEPs voted against the amendment to the EP resolution that insisted on an investigation and condemned Baku’s corruption practices.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Finance is still silent on the question whether it has received the EBRD’s response to the letter on Mitrev’s case that Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov sent after a crisis government meeting. Instead of withdrawing Mitrev at the height of the scandal, the government decided to ask the EBRD whether the bank intended to fire him. Immediately afterwards, a EBRD spokesperson told Bulgarian Capital daily that Kalin Mitrev is a Bulgarian diplomat and not an EBRD employee, consequently the Bulgarian side entirely bears the responsibility to initiate his recall.

 

Mitrev – a very discreet energy consultant

A Bivol research showed that the Azerbaijani money received by Kalin Mitrev comes from a shell company that was created to win public tender bids (see here and here). The owner and director of the company, apparently a straw man, refuted in a telephone conversation that he had sent emails in support of Mitrev’s claims of providing consultancy services in the field of hydropolytic strategy for flood prevention in the Kura River basin. It also turned out that the company did not win a public procurement contract from the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Azerbaijan for the preparation of such strategic documents, but for the supply of a mobile kitchen to the victims of the disaster.

 

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Over the years, Kalin Mitrev has repeatedly visited Azerbaijan in the company of his wife Irina Bokova, something that can be proven by numerous reports in local media and photographs with Azerbaijani officials in Mitrev’s presence, probably in his capacity of “first man” of the UNESCO boss.

 

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However, the financier has been in Azerbaijan on other official occasions as well, for example as advisor to former President Georgi Parvanov. Proof of this can be found in official travel logs of the government airplane provided to Parliament. The document shows that on June 30, 2010, Kalin Mitev flew to Baku as a member of Parvanov’s delegation in his capacity of “Advisor to the President on Economic and Energy Affairs”.

However, the Administration of the President replied to a request by Bivol that Kalin Mitrev had never been officially appointed as an advisor to the President of the Republic and had received no remuneration as such.

Kalin Mitrev was exposed as an agent of the former Communist secret services (State Security, DS) with the codename “Simeonov”. Meanwhile, Georgi Parvanov (also exposed as a DS agent with the codename “Gotse”) is known for his extraordinary lobbying activity, including by using funds of the presidential institution, in favor of Bokova’s candidacy for Director General of UNESCO. The most active supporters of Bokova during her failed UN Secretary General bid were also former ex- and high-ranking agents and functionaries of the Communist regime and the “red nomenclature” from which Bokova and Mitrev originated.

Western publications, reporting at the time on the election of the UN Secretary General, clearly described Bokova as “Putin’s candidate.” In this regard, the invincibility of the “Bulgarian representative” to the EBRD’s rather reveals him as a representative of another, dark force that does not at all care about the corruption stains on Bulgaria’s image and reputation.

 

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