Could a bank deny access to the accounts of a company of which you are the legal owner? Can a bank employee refuse even a printout with information about your account, provided that you are appearing in person, with proper documents or are sending a person with a notarized power of attorney? Under the law, such behavior on the part of financial institutions is inadmissible. But in Bulgaria this is possible and the bank is FIB. It is well known that this “bad apple” is not to complying with the law as it is the darling of all governments.
FIB has denied access to the accounts of the company “VM Corporation” four times in a row, in violation of the law. This happened after the express letter of the central bank, (Bulgarian National Bank, BNB), instructing FIB to provide information to authorized persons.
“VM Corporation” is a shell company, notorious for having been used for the theft of 20 million euro from deliveries of food to the poor in Romania (see here and here). The theft took place with the complicity of FIB and the organized crime group “The Killers,” as revealed by the Romanian Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (see here). However, the investigation in Bulgaria has been put on the backburner, as controversial lawmaker Delyan Peevski and Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov are providing a cover-up for it.
The complicity of FIB is written in black and white in the indictment of the Romanian Anti-corruption Office.
Journalists from Bivol and the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism, the Rise Project, exposed a scheme in which a Romanian criminal clan has also participated. Bivol obtained a perfectly legal power of attorney from the dummy owner of the company “VM Corporation” and followed the money trail. An investigative reporter of Bivol traveled to Cyprus and established that a local lawyer, paid by a shell company owned by FIB, has opened a bank account to which the stolen money has been transferred and he then wired it to offshore companies and closed the account (see here).
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Furthermore, our investigation categorically establishes that “The Killers” are connected with the majority shareholders of FIB – Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev (see here).
During the investigation in this case, which is the single largest theft of EU funds, our reporter Dimitar Stoyanov was followed and threatened. This provoked a sharp reaction of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the OCCE (see here and here).
The pressure against Stoyanov began a month ago, after he visited a FIB branch together with the dummy owner, Valeri Petrov, and as his proxy requested access to the accounts of the company.
However, FIB refused to grant the access, claiming that there was a technical problem, and subsequently asked Valeri Petrov to file a written request for such access to the management of the financial institution. This request remains unanswered to date.
Dimitar Stoyanov filed a claim with BNB and the Commission for Consumer Protection on behalf of Valeri Petrov. He received a response from BNB that has been copied to FIB’s majority shareholders.
The letter, signed by Nina Stoyanova, Deputy Governor of BNB, states that the complaint has been probed. It gives instructions to FIB to obey the law and to provide access to the accounts or information about possible restrictions on them. The fact that there has been a probe means that BNB is certain that the power of attorney issued by Valeri Petrov to Dimitar Stoyanov is valid and the central bank has no objections regarding its legitimacy.
Yesterday, however, FIB refused again access to the accounts, despite the BNB letter and in gross violation of the law. This time the refusal was grounded on the lack of “specimen” of Valeri Petrov’s the signature.
It turns out that FIB, which was managing Valeri Petrov’s millions and has issued to him bank letters of guarantee for tens of millions of euro to bid in a public tender for food deliveries to the poor in Romania, and even, according to Petrov’s own words, had kept his company’s seals, does not have a copy of his ID card.
This document is mandatory for opening a bank account and its lack, admitted by a FIB employee before our reporter, is sufficient reason for a new inspection of BNB and for the prosecution to launch an investigation in money laundering. This is unlikely to happen, as the prosecution even overlooked the obvious evidence that FIB is a direct accomplice in the theft of 26 million euro of EU money – money for the poor.
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