The surprise announcement of Bulgartabac that it was stopping exports to the Middle East came on the same day when Bivol received a refusal from the Customs Agency to disclose information under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) on the tobacco maker’s partners in the region.
The questions we asked are within the frame of an investigation that proves that the distributors of the Bulgartabac brands are outlawed and are being investigated for smuggling, money laundering and financing of terrorist organizations.
Bivol sent to the Customs a letter dating from 2011, with reference number 49-28-15. It was signed by former heads of Bulgartabac and it shows that even before its privatization, the tobacco maker has worked with the company Caledon Invest and its representative for the Middle East, Salam Quadir Faraj. The Ministry of Economy, which was the sole shareholder of Bulgartabac at that time, responded to a request by Bivol that it had no such letter on record.
With this letter, Caledon and Salam have confirmed their powers before the Bulgarian Customs Agency as cigarette exporting partners.
Instead of saying whether there is such letter in the archives of the Agency, the Customs sought permission from Bulgartabac and it was unsurprisingly denied.
According to information obtained by Bivol, the late General Vanyo Tanev was on the brink of revealing this information which is of great public interest, but passed away from a sudden heart attack.
The new Head of the Customs, Rosalia Dimitrova, however, grounded her refusal on the… refusal of Bulgartabac to disclose this information, which means that
The Customs have given to Bulgartabac the evidence provided by Bivol that their smuggling scheme has been busted and are simultaneously concealing from the public facts of huge public interest!
This is a resounding confirmation that the company enjoys the cover-up of Bulgaria’s rulers. According to the majority shareholder of the collapsed Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), Tsvetan Vassilev, the company is owned by shady mogul and lawmaker Delyan Peevski.
The distributors of Bulgartabac are investigated for smuggling and money laundering
Caledon Invest, which is associated with the former Bulgartabac boss, Hristo Lachev, has been investigated in Bulgaria for cigarette smuggling and tax crimes, as evidenced by the attached document with a request for disclosure of the ownership of the company, addressed by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office to US authorities .
It is unclear what happened to this investigation, conducted jointly by the National Services for Combatting Organized Crime and the prosecution, and whether the US authorities have granted permission for the disclosure of Caledon’s ownership.
Between 2007 and 2011, Bulgartabac has not changed the distributor that is investigated for cigarette smuggling. The following is written in black and white in today’s announcement of the company:
“Bulgartabac has not changed distributors in the Middle East that have been operating in the region for over ten years i.e. they were inherited from the period when the company was State-owned.”
The Delaware business registry, where Caledon Invest is registered, shows that the company Caledon Invest has been deleted in 2013 due to unpaid taxes. Thus, if Bulgartabac continues to work with this particular distributor, this is completely illegal.
Caledon and Salam Faraj are also outlawed as distributors, according to documents issued by the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2011, Caledon Invest and Salam Quadir Faraj had their license for import of cigarettes revoked with two decrees of the local Ministry of Economy (see gallery).
The content of these documents was officially confirmed by the diplomatic representative of Iraqi Kurdistan in Paris, whom Bivol approached with a request to check whether the letters are authentic.
The revocation of the license has been decided after authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan found out that Salam Quadir Faraj has submitted a false document – “contract” between Bulgartabac and Caledon for distribution rights of the brand “Prestige” for five years.
The document is stamped with the seal of “Tabak” – Asenovgrad and the signature is authenticated by a notary public in Turkey and then re-certified by the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara (see gallery above).
However, authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan discovered the fraud and withdrew the license of Salam Faraj, who has since ventured as an illegal importer. The imported in Iraq cigarettes, mainly from the brand “Prestige”, end on the black market in Turkey, and by 2014 they have reached 70% of the illegal cigarettes market share.
According to Turkish authorities, this business, worth billions of US dollars, finances the PKK terrorist organization, but it is possible that the trucks loaded with cigarettes and the fees paid to access the black market are also funding other terrorist organizations, such as Islamic State, whose territories are used for the transport.
More publications on the subject “Bulgartabac Mafia” by Bivol:
Bulgartabac Mafia II
This post is also available in: Bulgarian