The company of Monica Yosifova – Stanisheva (wife of the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Party of European Socialists, Sergei Stanishev – editor’s note) “Active Group” Ltd. has accumulated a solid income from advertising and PR during the period 2007 – 2012. Data from the Business Registry are as follows:

2007 – 3 991 000 levs

2008 – 6 039 000 levs

2009 – 4 620 000 levs

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2010 – 2 176 000 levs

2011 – 2 141 000 levs

2012 – 1 51 3000 levs

The total amount from six fiscal years is 20.48 million levs (twenty million, 480 000 levs).

The portfolio of “Active Group” includes mainly government institutions of whose image the company is taking care. It was embroiled in a scandal with Austrian lobbyist Hochegger, convicted in Austria, and there was also a parliamentary inquiry in Bulgaria.

Bivol revealed last year that the company has an office in Brussels and has received a grant in the amount of 60 000 euro from the European Parliament. Not much was done to account for this money – a site was created with the use of free software and an exhibit of children’s drawings was organized. Bivol also asked whether there was any conflict of interest stemming from the fact that Monica’s husband is the leader of PES.

Representatives of the Directorate General “Communications” of the European Parliament informed that they saw no conflict of interest. They also provided the declaration signed by Monica Yosifova that she was not in conflict of interest. Right-wing MEPs were of other opinion and asked the same question to EP President Martin Schulz. Words such as “it smells of taking advantage” were pronounced in the EP plenary hall. So far, Schultz has not offered an answer.

Despite a prolonged correspondence with the European Parliament, Bivol never received the financial documents for the grant because, according to Directorate “Communications”, they were company secret. Monica Yosifova returned the 30 000 euro received in advances and gave up the project to promote European elections.

Pressure on media and censorship of “Grant Gate”

The publication of Bivol in October 2013 about the scandalous grant was hushed by all Bulgarian media except Mediapool, Capital and PIK.

The resulting impact, however, was exactly the opposite – the case stirred the interest of European media, as evidenced by a publication of Der Spiegel, which, though delayed, received wide coverage.

Meanwhile, documents leaked through the platform for anonymous sharing BSPLeaks exposed Monica Yosifova in playing an active political role in BSP in 2009 by orchestrating political campaigns in favor of the party.

The story with the grant of “Active Group” was apparently too uncomfortable for Bulgarian socialists and personally for Sergei Stanishev. The mention of the difficulties to obtain public information precisely about this grant led to censorship of journalists from Bivol in the Council of Europe.

Learning whether the latest stint of Stanishev as MEP would pave the way for new business opportunities of Monica Stanisheva is still pending. Bivol will continue to closely monitor the public tenders and the grants awarded to “Active Group”.

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