Organized Crime Past Lurks Behind Sale of CEZ Business in Bulgaria

Екип на Биволъ

Duplication of social security numbers (known as unified civil number(s), EGN) is a rare case in Bulgaria, and when such case involves not two, but three persons, then it borders on a mystery. This is precisely the case of one of the managers of the company Inercom Group, which was chosen by the electric power utility CEZ to buy its business in Bulgaria. Petrana Georgieva Paytakova has the same EGN as Teodora Georgieva Paytakova and Teodora Nikolova Paytakova, according to entries in the Trade Register researched by Bivol.

Three ladies with the same EGN in the Trade Register.

Mystery or intentional covering of tracks? Let’s assume for the moment that it is a mystery.

How Inercom will find EUR 320 million to pay to CEZ and how will it manage the electricity distribution on one third of the territory of Bulgaria is an equally big mystery. All companies named “Inercom”: “Inercom”, “Inercom Bulgaria”, “Inercom Investments”, “Inercom Pro” and “Inercom Group” have a total of 20 staff, each with a capital of BGN 50,000.

All this is not sufficient for the company to deal in the future with a business worth more than BGN 1.5 billion. A curious fact is that at the moment the company Enercom Investments, the parent company of the other “Inercoms”, is not even registered under VAT.

The connection between the three ladies with the same EGN and Ginka Varbakova, who is the owner of Inercom on paper, is not difficult to establish. There is a family from the town of Stamboliyski in southern Bulgaria – the father and the mother are Nikola and Petrana Paytakovi. The daughters are Teodora Nikolova Paytakova and Ginka Nikolova Pyatakova, whose married name is Varbakova. There is no Teodora Georgieva Paytakova; she does not exist.

The Paytakov-Varbakov families control together several companies in the construction and photovoltaic business. One of them is refurbishing an apartment building in the nearby city of Pazardzhik for BGN 1.6 million.

The scale of the family’s family business does not warrant any bank financing it with EUR 320 million. However, CEZ has found nothing strange and wrong in the Inercom bid and this is also part of the

Czech Mysteries

surrounding the sale of the Bulgarian business of CEZ. Why does the Czech State-owned CEZ want to get rid of its Bulgarian assets? According to Capital daily, both, CEZ Distribution and CEZ Electro, are profitable. In 2017, CEZ Electro even increased its profit from BGN 864,000 in 2016 to BGN 36 million.

The problem of CEZ is clearly not a business one, but reputational. Over the years, their business in Bulgaria has been marred by scandals, revocation of licenses and investigations by the Prosecutor’s Office, revealing abuses of public procurement.

However, the choice of an unknown Pazardzhik company seems more like a sequel to the scandals, and instead of taming them, it risks opening a new chapter in CEZ’s shadowy business relations with the power.

The fact that a person with no qualifications or expert knowledge was on CEZ Bulgaria Supervisory Board for several years is not yet forgotten. This the infamous Dimitar “Mitko the Karate Player” Stefanov, a former manager of a firm of Rumen “The Pasha” Nikolov, as Bivol was able to establish.

A prosecutor’s probe in 2013 revealed that during the “Karate Player’s” time on the Board, over BGN 800 million had been syphoned from CEZ through illegal and manipulated public procurement. The prosecution even concluded that this has had a negative impact on electricity prices.

Strangely enough, however, the work of the office of Prosecutor General, Sotir Tsatsarov, on this scandalous case faded and so far has not led to any charges. Still, after the “Karate Player” scandal made headlines in Czech media, he was quietly dismissed by CEZ’s management.

The answer of a CEZ official representative at the time to a question of why the “Karate Player” had been appointed in the first place, was that he had been a “local facilitator” of the group’s business. The replay was an elegant way to admit to political corruption without risking an investigation into it.

“The Pasha”, again?

However, the shadows of the former SIC group, (an alleged powerful former organized crime group – editor’s note), “The Pasha” and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov are once again lurking behind the forthcoming sale of CEZ’s business in Bulgaria to the mysterious Enercom.

An investigation by Bivol established that from 2004 to 2014, the husband of “Ginka from Pazardzhik”, Slavcho Varbakov, had a joint company with former model and Miss Bulgaria, Evgenia Kalkandjieva.

Slavcho Varbakov, husband of Ginka from Pazardjik and Evgenia Kalkandjieva had been doing business together for ten years.

In addition to her modeling career and involvement in the modeling industry, Kalkandjieva is known for her closeness to a number of SIC bosses, particularly “the Marguin brothers”. One of the bosses of the group in the 1990s was Rumen “The Pasha” Nikolov, while at that time Bulgaria’s current Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was some sort of a PR for SIC, according to media reports and photographs from the 1990s.

Also in the 1990s, “The Pasha” and Borisov had been running a joint business with illegal cigarette production in the coastal town of Kraymorie, as Bivol revealed years ago.

Their illegal factory had been raided and closed by the anti-mafia police (Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, BOP) in 1995, several months before Boyko Borisov had been recruited and placed under surveillance by the same police directorate as an undercover agent with the codename “Buddha” over his connections with the underworld.

The third partner in the joint company of Kalkandjieva and Slavcho Varbakov is Venislava Peeva, who is a partner with Vassil “The Skull” Bozhkov in Global Games. Her name briefly made headlines in the spring of 2017 when journalists from Nova TV were attacked and bullied by guards from the security company “Omega 69”.

Peeva is also a partner in another company, called SMS Games, with Boyan Nikolov, who was briefly part of the management of Inercom Group.

These numerous and time-withstanding business relationships with people close to SIC and the Premier Minister’s mafia circle obviously do not make Slavcho Varbakov a particularly desired frontman of Inercom. This explains why “Ginka from Pazardzhik” had been moved to the forefront, and probably the mysterious twist with her mother Petrana’s EGN.

Certainly, however, after exposing Varbakov’s relations with people from the criminal group SIC and close to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the mystery of finding EUR 320 million for the acquisition of CEZ’s business becomes less mysterious.

As for the Czech State-owned company, it cannot be denied that it is distinguished by consistency and continuity in the choice of its business partners in Bulgaria: SIC and SIC again.


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