An epistolary statement of 15 pages to the US Ambassador in Sofia Marcie Ries, received through the Balkanleaks platform, claims to reveal the essence of the model “WHO” and of the criminal backstage rule in Bulgaria. This is done through the prism of the privatization of “Bulgartabac” and the commercial operations of the company which are associated with financing activities of Islamic terrorist organizations.
The copy, which Bivol has, is signed by persons who cannot be clearly identified – L.N., M. E. and D. K., on behalf of the presently unknown “Citizens’ Committee for the Revival of Bulgaria”. The full names are kept in the editorial office.
Bivol turned to the US Embassy with the question whether such a letter has been received. After they asked for details about the authors and the content, the Embassy answered that they cannot give information on the fate of the letter as the senders are not included among the contributors to the site. However, they did not deny the very fact of the existence and receipt of the letter.
Lawmaker Delyan Peevski, financed by Tsvetan Vasilev through Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), is designated as the engine of the scheme, but the letter also cites the names of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, of the Honorary Lifetime Chairman of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Ahmed Dogan, the close to the Prime Minister businessman Alexander Staliyski, businessmen Atanas Shterev and Anton Petrov and the mother of Delyan Peevski – Irena Krasteva. Lawyers Alexander Angelov and the representative of “Bulgartabac” Ventsislav Cholakov, identified as especially close associates of Peevski, are listed as proxies in the schemes.
The exposé repeats already published information about the participation through shell companies of Boyko Borisov, Staliyski and Dogan in “Bulgartabac”, after its privatization carried out by CCB, Tsvetan Vassilev and the Russian VTB Capital. This information, however, did not make headlines in the media and did not become the subject of interest of the Parliamentary Committee in the CCB case.
8.5% of Bulgartabac as a political “fee” for the privatization?
As early as February, financial journalist Miroslav Ivanov published in his blog correspondence that looked like an e-mail leak. The letters and the schemes, whose author is supposedly lawyer Angelov, describe in detail what is happening to the assets of “Bulgartabac” and how the ownership of the major shareholder BT Invest is structured.
Schemes published by Miroslav Ivanov and republished with his permission. The underlining is of Bivol.
The letter to Marcie Ries refers to the same schemes and claims that the elite political blessing for the privatization in 2011 had concrete material terms – 8.5% of the assets of the company. It mentions a “fee” that was split between Prime Minister Boyko Borisov through Grand Investors Ltd and Ahmed Dogan through the offshore company Vitality Invest Limited (in the letter it is spelled Vilarity Invest Limited) and Alexander Staliyski – referred to as the “hot bridge” between Peevski and Dogan and Borisov in the business.
Through a complex web of offshore companies and foundations, registered in the British Virgin Islands and Liechtenstein, the assets have been distributed among the main players – Delyan Peevski, alcohol-producer Vinprom Peshtera and the people receiving the fee – Borisov, Dogan and Staliyski, who are hiding behind lawyer Angelov as a “proxy”, the letter says. The percentage of the fee for the politicians does not seem very large, but it should be noted that officially Bulgartabac remains a “golden hen” that generates profits of tens of millions of euro, while the unofficial ones from smuggling can only be assumed.
Bivol was able to find evidence of some of these companies registered in Liechtenstein and the available documents confirm that they use the same trustee – the law firm “Walch & Shurti” – referred to in the letter as the main facilitator of the schemes in Liechtenstein. The collected operative data give serious reasons to believe that the whole transaction for the acquisition of the assets of one of the biggest Bulgarian companies is associated with massive corruption, conflict of interest and criminal money laundering.
The letter notes the key role of the Dubai offshore company TGI Middle East FZE which owns Livero Establishment, registered in Liechtenstein. It asks questions about the origin of the money for the transaction with which the ownership of “Bulgartabac” was ultimately transferred from VTB Capital to the offshore companies.
According to the authors of the letter, the financing of the transaction “Bulgartabac” originates from cigarette smuggling and money laundering from transactions with Islamic terrorist organizations.
Much of the text of the letter to Ries is dedicated to the connection of Delyan Peevski with financing of radical Islamic organizations. In 2010, prosecutors announced that the head of the Bulgarian branch of the illegal Islamic organization Al Waqf Al Islami is Said Muutlu. The State Agency for National Security (DANS) had indications that companies related to Peevski financed Said Muutlu’s organization. However, these alerts have been covered and it happened with the cooperation of the former Head of DANS Vladimir Pisanchev, also referred in the letter as having close relations with Peevski.
The letter reminds that in 2013 “the Egmont Group” – an informal global association of financial intelligence units from different countries – offered an agreement to share information regarding financing of terrorism. The Memorandum was signed by Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the USA, and later by other countries. Bulgaria refused to join because of the position of DPS lawmakers Yordan Tsonev (then Chairman of the Committee on Finances) and Delyan Peevski. Thus, cooperation in combating financing of terrorism has been prevented.
This information is indirectly confirmed by a respected and extensive publication in the prestigious German Die Welt, focusing mainly on Bulgaria and the relationships of Bulgarian State secret services with radical Islamic terrorists, including Islamic State The article is entitled “The Next Big Battleground Is Europe“. In its investigation, the German newspaper literally claims the following:
“As the poorest country in Europe, Bulgaria is best suited for illegal activities. The State has a “serious problem” with corruption, reaching the highest echelons of power, as the European Commission established this year. To this we must add the fact that the Bulgarian mafia, operating internationally, is a power factor. It has good connections with criminal gangs in Russia, Serbia, but also in Italy. Drugs, weapons and human trafficking are its specialty.”
…”Islamic State” obtains passports through the Bulgarian mafia. Former officers of Saddam Hussein trained in the former socialist countries, are among the senior leadership of Islamic State, and the secret services of the Eastern bloc were extremely professional,” it is further stated in the publication of journalist Alfred Hackensberger. The author cites a German secret undercover agent with the codename Lorentz Berger.
The authors of the letter explain to Ambassador Marcie Ries that the main argument against the inclusion of Bulgaria in the “Egmont Group” is the existing cigarette smuggling networks, amounting to dozens of containers per month, each container with a profit of 1.1 million euro. Western partners have intercepted the traffic and the fact that it passes through Bulgaria, where logistics are performed by small, specially selected for this purpose companies, related to Delyan Peevski and “Kings Tobacco” of Atanas Shterev and Anton Petrov (also known as Peshtatsite for being the owners of Vinprom Peshtera). However, the latter were second-rate players compared to Peevski.
It is claimed that Delyan Peevski held meetings with representatives of terrorist organizations and such trips could be easily traced through credit card statements for a card issued by CCB, as the authors of the letter detail. In the period 2012 – 2014, the lawmaker, who does not own any properties on paper, visited during the first week of each month five-star hotels in Dubai, London and Vienna, and paid for his stay with a credit card issued by CCB, the same one he states he has nothing to do with.
Moreover Peevski owned villa in Dubai, bought in 2012 for 10 million US dollars. The estate of 3,000 square meters was equipped with a pool, a gym, a bar and three garages, overlooking the Burj Khalifa Lake. According to the authors of the letter, the coordination meetings on cigarette smuggling, money laundering and financing of Islamic terrorism were held there. Some of the payments could not be traced because of bank transfers from Bulgaria to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia, the end of the narrative specifies.
There were recordings of secret meetings and bribes for the appointment of Tsatsarov
The letter discusses in detail the circumstances surrounding the crushing of the signal of “Protest Network” against Delyan Peevski and Irena Krasteva and maintains that the investigation and the prosecution are under DPS’ dependence.
The letter contains the shocking information that Delyan Peevski gave Sotir Tsatsarov 5 million levs to pay Ahmed Dogan and thus ensure his election as Chief Prosecutor by the members of the Supreme Judicial Council associated with DPS. The meeting between Peevski and Tsatsarov was held at Hotel Berlin on December 20, 2012, is written in the letter, and it was recorded. The next day Tsatsarov met with the leader of the Socialists in Plovdiv Georgi Gergov, who mediated the deal. It is assumed that this meeting was also recorded.
The authors further remind of the meeting on February 10, 2014, in the Interior Ministry between former Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Delyan Peevski and Sotir Tsatsarov, about which they themselves admitted. The appointments of Tsatsarov’s deputies were discussed at this meeting.
It is even more intimidating that representatives of institutions such as the Prosecutor’s Office, the Judiciary, the Investigation, the Ministry of Interior, DANS etc., are in the service of this political mafia circle, highlights in the letter. They mislead NATO and European partners and in fact sabotage international efforts to suppress financing of terrorist organizations, it is concluded in the text. It was apparently sent to the US Embassy with the understanding that as the presented data are verifiable, the senders can hardly remain anonymous for powerful agencies like the American ones, provided that the information attracts their attention.
Bivol is continuing its work on shedding light on the ownership and the representation of the offshore companies cited in the document and it requires time and careful analysis.
See the full text of the letter below.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian