“I have checked somewhat,” said Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, after announcing the termination of the public tender contract for the “Hemus” highway. His sudden move was motivated by “hovering doubts” that oligarchs are standing behind the companies which won the contract for 1 billion levs. These are the companies “GP Group”, linked in media publications with the head of “Lukoil Bulgaria” Valentin Zlatev, and “PST-Group” which is allegedly associated with controversial lawmaker Delyan Peevski.
Bivol does not have the resources of agencies like the National Security Agency from which the Prime Minister by law may request reports, but also decided to “check somewhat” PST-Group. Other media that did similar investigations stopped at the fact that the sole owner of the former PST Holding is a Cypriot offshore company Kolvik Services, and that it was not clear who stands behind it.
Bivol’s investigation established that the owner of the offshore company Kolvik Services Limited is the person Nicky Tenekedzi and he bought it from Georgios Georgiou. It turns out that two of the hottest cases in recent weeks – the suspended public tenders for the “Hemus” highway and the future of the ski zone in the Bansko winter resort are closely related.
Nicky Tenekedzi acquired Kolvik Services Ltd. on February 7, 2014 (see the documents here) by buying all 1,000 shares in Formal Nominees of the infamous Georgios Georgiou, who owns on paper huge business in Bulgaria and also owes 1.2 billion levs to First Investment Bank (FIB).
In fact, the investigation in “Kolvik Services” was conducted by Bivol a year and a half ago. Then we studied the ownership of more than 50 companies and 10 offshore companies and revealed who are the connected persons and the dummies who have received loans for over 1.2 billion levs from First Investment Bank. This information was provided to the Bulgarian National Bank (central bank), which at first refused to conduct a probe, but after Dimitar Radev replaced Ivan Iskrov as Governor, he promised to take it into account during the forthcoming stress tests of Bulgarian banks.
After buying Kolvik Services, on March 26, 2014, Tenekedzi acquired in Bulgaria shares in PST-Group Patstroyengineering, Engineering M, PST Leasing and Trakya Build. These companies have taken loans from FIB for a total of 135 million levs and the major debtor is PST-Group, which has a loan from 2013 in the amount of 50 million levs.
The new owner of PST-Group clearly inspired great trust on the part of the lender because on May 23, 2014, it granted PST-Group another 5 million levs with an annex to the loan contract from 2014. This confidence is also justified with a sharp increase in the tenders won by PST-Group, compared to 2013 – 89 million in 2014 and 44 million in 2015, compared to 26 million in 2013.
What is hidden behind the transactions between the “Georgioses” and the “Nickeys” in Cyprus?
In the good old days of the first “Borisov” government Borisov PST-Group belonged to alleged organized crime figure Vasil “The Skull” Bozhkov. These were good times because in 2010, 2011 and 2012, public contracts with this company were measured by hundreds, not tens of millions levs.
Despite these huge turnovers, The Skull accumulated massive debts to FIB and gave his business to the bank where controversial lawmaker Delyan Peevski transferred his loans after his “divorce” from the majority shareholder of the collapsed Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), Tsvetan Vasilev.
The sequence of the acquisition of PST-Group by Kolvik and the sharp increase in procurement awarded to the company in 2014 coincides with the period of the backstage conflict between Vasilev and Peevski, which began in early 2014 and ended in June the same year.
Besides moving the loans of his companies in FIB, Peevski took over the construction business of The Skull, while the cover-up for the ownership is provided by FIB majority shareholders Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev through the office of the “Georgioses”” in Cyprus.
The sequel is known. Once he secured a new financial backbone in FIB, Peevski consumed the “divorce” with CCB in June 2014, and taxpayers footed the bill with 3 billion levs. In addition, this new “Bank of Peevski” was rescued with EUR 1.2 billion levs in State aid and provided a prosecutor cover-up for the criminal activities, including theft of EU funds, conducted with its assistance.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian