In the first part of this investigation (see here) Bivol revealed how several million in credit from First Investment Bank (FIB) for the shell company VEILMES Ltd have ended through another phantom company in the accounts of offshore companies linked to the bank’s majority shareholders Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev.
The loans for VEILMES are secured with a collateral of the real estate properties of Ivan Tanev, AKA “The Universal”, wanted by Interpol on tax fraud charges pressed by Bulgarian authorities. Tanev’s relationship with VEILMES is confirmed by the fact that the company manager, Peter Skenderov, is a former business partner of Tanev in several companies.
The scheme, however, is much larger. From the evidence that Bivol has, one can conclude that FIB has granted huge loans in euro to several shell companies such as VEILMES, used by Tanev for VAT fraud schemes and by Mila Georgieva, Tanev’s partner in the group “The Universals”. She was accused as the ringleader of the criminal group “The Killers”, dealing with racketeering, arson and murder. Bivol wrote earlier about property deals of this female boss of “The Killers” personally with the co-owner of FIB, Ivaylo Mutafchiev.
“The money trail” that can be traced through bank documents clearly points at the complicity of the bosses and owners of FIB in the criminal schemes of Ivan Tanev and Mila Georgieva.
The transfers, revealed by Bivol, also have a distinct flare of laundering money from criminal activity. Huge amounts of cash were flowing to the accounts of companies linked to “The Universals” and “The Killers” for which FIB failed to notify the State Agency for National Security (DANS) and has not implemented measures against money laundering. These funds of unknown origin are going to offshore companies with Cypriot accounts, including those linked to Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev.
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After Ivan Tanev was charged, FIB tried to frame him and sent a signal to the prosecution. FIB also used documents with his signature that were proven to be false. Thus, FIB expected to conceal criminal offenses in which it participated and to fully blame the “The Universal”. However, the documents incriminate FIB not only in complicity, but in forgeries and offenses against justice.
Besides the already described in the first part of the investigation loans to VEILMES Ltd in the amount of 11 million euro, Bivol also researched the loans to the following companies:
ELIKS Ltd – credit of 16.17 million euro and 5.5 million euro for working capital; the company has no activity and revenue. These amounts are secured by a promissory note from Tanev.
DIMEL MES Ltd has received two loans of 6.9 million euro and 343,780 euro. This company is also without activity, but financed the other phantom companies like VEILMES.
NIKSTOM Ltd, which is associated with Mila Georgieva, was entitled to receive overdraft of up to 2.3 million euro. The company is owned by the offshore ZORGANE ASIA LTD.
Genesis LABORATORIES received in 2010 a loan from FIB in the amount of 1,351,790 euro. The manager of the company at that time was Mila Georgieva is, and the owner is still ZORGANE ASIA.
VM CORPORATION LTD – the company received three bank guarantees for a total of 31 million euro to deliver a shipment of cooking oil for the Romanian Food Agency APIA. The deliveries were funded under the European programs for food for the poor. After receiving the money from the Romanian agency, the company evaporated and APIA sued FIB to reclaim the 20 million euro against which it had received no goods.
ZITERA Ltd received a loan of 14,842,800 euro in working capital without even a basic check. The money was absorbed in the course of a few days and was transferred outside the country.
A horse cart for a 30-million-euro loan
A total of about 87 million euro was allocated to those companies that are connected either to each other or through their owners or as guarantors of the loan agreements, or share a common address. As a rule they are registered to dummy impoverished persons. Witnesses remember how the owner of the largest borrower – VM CORPORATION – arrived in a horse cart; parked it in front of FIB and came to sign the documents for which he hardly had any idea what they contained.
VM CORPORATION shares the same address with ELIKS Ltd and NIKSTOM Ltd. It is not in an office building, but in an apartment in the most commonplace residential building in the “Strelbishte” district in Sofia. The guarantor of their loans is Ivan Tanev “The Universal”.
The person with the horse cart, who owns VM CORPORATION, is also the owner of the company VMP Ltd which, together with ELIKS, DIMEL MES and NIKSTOM, is the guarantor of VEILMES’ loans.
Moreover, DIMEL MES and VEILMES have joint ownership of several terrains and VEILMES itself, as already mentioned, is related to Ivan Tanev through its manager Peter Skenderov. A connection is also detected with companies from the circle NADINE, also financed by FIB. DIMEL MES is registered at the same address as NADINE, whose manager was charged with tax fraud.
The money trail
So far, the range of firms of “The Universal”, credited by FIB, is clearly defined and the links between them are proven. Sophisticated schemes for VAT draining and draining credit from FIB, however, include shell and offshore companies associated with the very owners of FIB – Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev.
The fictitious transactions of VMP and VEILMES, leading to VAT fraud, attracted the attention of tax authorities back in 2011 (see here). Relatively small amounts were detected, while bank statements that Bivol has, reveal transfers for millions.
For example, in 2011, ELIKS transferred to VEILMES 2.4 million euro, and VMP – 1.2 million euro. VEILMES in turn paid invoices to ELIKS and NIKSTOM in the amount of nearly 1 million euro.
The Genesis accounts were clearly used for other operations because “The Killers” boss had withdrawn and deposited in them hundreds of thousands of euro in cash, at the counter. On July 19, 2010, Mila Georgieva has withdrawn 300,000 euro in cash. This money has been wired a few days earlier from a Cypriot account to ZORGANE ASIA.
The ZORGANE ASIA account, on its part, was padded by the already-notorious shell company BRANDAL CENT 2000. In the period June 2008 – October 2010, 5 million levs and 3.5 million euro were transferred to ZORGANE ASIA, respectively from the BGN and EUR accounts of BRANDAL CENT 2000 in FIB.
The money in the BRANDAL account came from contributions in cash and transfers from companies that received loans from FIB and spun them in criminal schemes for VAT draining. Besides funding the operations of Mila Georgieva from “The Killers”, in 2011 and 2012, this same company transferred 2.44 million euro to SANTA FE, linked to Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev.
Formally, these transfers were justified by a contract for the import of meat, and the contracts of SANTA FE with BRANDAL CENT and of ZORGANE ASIA with BRANDAL CENT are identical (see brandal-santa-fe-meso zorgane-santa-fe-meso-1 zorgane-santa -fe-meso-2). But as it became clear from the response to a request under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, BRANDAL CENT is not a registered meat dealer and has not dealt with any imports or exports.
Ivan Tanev “The Universal’s” scope is consistent with his nickname. Investigators found that he was able to drain VAT through various transactions relating to food trade – grain, meat, State orders for food for the poor. However, without the financial backup of FIB and the granting of huge unsecured loans that simply would not be possible.
At one point, Ivan Tanev’s companies reached a turnover of 200 million euro, while the drained VAT amounted to tens of millions. But the idyll ended with the arrest of “The Universal” and then
FIB framed Tanev
with a signal to the prosecution at the beginning of 2013, and designating him as the guarantor for multi-million loans to VM CORPORATION and ZITERA. The case was taken over by the Special Public Prosecutor and was attached to the “The Universals” case, but the collected data and expert report from the central bank’s (Bulgarian National Bank, BNB) “Banking Supervision” incriminate FIB itself in violations.
The loans were granted “without basic checks”; without indicating the purpose of one of the loans and the way of repayment; without the mandatory requisites filled in the application and even without checking the circumstances described by the borrower and without notifying BNB, which is a violation of the Credit Institutions Act, as indicated in the report of “Banking Supervision”, described in an article of the site Mediapool.
The Supervising Prosecutor from the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, Yordan Gramov, concluded that this was a “particularly serious case of mismanagement in large amounts”. According to the wording of the Special Public Prosecutor, the responsibility must be sought from the management of FIB, but the case was sent for expert assessment in the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, where it was reformulated under a different legal article in order to not hold FIB responsible.
This is not all. It turns out that FIB has prevented justice by submitting in the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office false documents in which Tanev was added as guarantor.
The report of the BNB inspectors further noted that they have not found the name of Ivan Tanev in any analysis or decision of the competent authorities granting loans and any “logical explanation why Ivan Tanev was attracted as guarantor”.
But there is a logical explanation and it is found in the decision of the Sofia City Court from December 2014 – civil commercial case 1825. According to the conclusion of a triple legal handwriting expertise
The signature of the “The Universal” on the credit documents is forged
Experts proved that First Investment Bank has submitted to the Court a forged document – a promissory note. Two signatures were forged in the document presented by FIB – of the manager of the company ZITERA Ltd, Rumen Dakovski, and the signature of Ivan Tanev as guarantor. (See promissory notes signed by Tanev and promissory notes without Tanev’s signature.)
With the false document FIB pulled a writ for 1 million euro against ZITERA Ltd and against Ivan Tanev.
It is not known whether the prosecution was approached over the forgery, whose compiler is also unknown, but which is entirely for the benefit of FIB.
In addition to the proven forged promissory note signed by Tanev, Bivol has two different versions of the loan agreement between FIB and ZITERA – with and without Tanev as guarantor.
In the first version, which was sent by FIB to DANS in December 2012, the signatures of bank officials are visible on each page. In this version, the name of Ivan Tanev is missing. (See Contract 000LD-L000325 DD 21.04.2012 – 1)
The second version was sent by FIB to Prosecutor Yordan Gramov in March 2013. This happened after Tanev was charged in December 2012 and after the FIB CEOs filed a complaint against him in the Prosecutor’s Office. The new contract no longer has signatures on each page and in section “Collateral”, in article 23, a paragraph that binds ZITERA LTD with Fantasy 95 -GEORGI TSANKOV and Ivan Tanev as guarantor was added. (See Contract 000LD-L000325 DD 21.04.2012 – 2)
From all of the above facts, it appears that FIB has submitted false documents to the prosecution to blame Tanev for the uncollectible credit of ZITERA.
There is no evidence that the prosecution is investigating the management and the owners of FIB for complicity in “The Universals” scams as well as the drain of credit through shell companies to accounts of offshore companies linked to Minev and Mutafchiev.
A transfer from Cyprus to a special escrow-account for 33 million euro is indirect evidence of where in fact the money went.
Loan assignment of ELIKS and ZITERA provisioned from offshores of Minev and Mutafchiev
In 2012, the investigation in the case “The Universals” reached the group of companies that gravitate around FIB, which imposed taking urgent measures to hide the hole in FIB from the siphoning of millions of euro and to show the auditing institutions of BNB that the money will be returned.
FIB took measures to conceal the non-performing loans by signing loan assignments with VEILMES Ltd, DIMEL MES Ltd, ELIKS Ltd, and ZITERA Ltd for the purchase of the debt with six-month deferred payment by SKI ENGINEERING LTD. This company had no activity, no revenues and funds to buy debt of 60 million euro; moreover the conditions of the assignments were such that the company had to pay 100% of the purchased debt. It is a precedent in the commercial practice to buy an obligation without discount rates of debt.
The manager of SKI ENGINEERING was Iliyana Guneva, who is an employee of First Financial Brokerage House, owned by Ivaylo Mutafchiev and Tseko Minev. The company has a small share in YULEN, the concessionaire of the ski resort in Pirin associated with FIB.
The assignments matured in the first half of 2013, but were not paid by SKI ENGINEERING Ltd. BNB has already shown interest in the development of the transaction and if there was a payment for the assignment. In fact, after the report was prepared for the prosecution and the shocking findings in it, “Banking Supervision” no longer had a way to ignore these non-performing loans.
FIB concluded a new contract for the sale of receivables again with the same company, while the contract was with the most problematic companies – ELIKS Ltd and ZITERA Ltd. This time, it was necessary to guarantee the payment under the contracts, which was done by a clause for a special account (escrow-account).
Thus, on September 3, 2013, 32.956 million euro was transferred to the escrow account of SKI ENGINEERING from the account of the company ZALMA HOLDING Ltd in the Cypriot branch of FIB.
ZALMA HOLDING is registered in the British Virgin Islands, and its trail leads to familiar faces – the secretary of the company is LEN SECRETARIAL of Georgios Georgiou for whom it was revealed that he has received more than 1 billion levs in loans from FIB. Radu Bogdan Yugulesku, Nicoleta Elena Yugulesku and Stella Georgiou are the directors. Maria Papadopoulou was listed as sole shareholder.
Romanian nationals Yugulesku are also directors of the offshore SANTA FE HOLDING, owned by Evdokiya Maklamuzi, partner of Georgios in a number of companies with loans from FIB. We remind that this is the same company, which, as the previous investigation showed, has received through the phantom company BRANDAL CENT several millions from the loans granted by FIB to Ivan Tanev “The Universal”.
However, to this day, FIB keeps passing the ball and the debts of ZITERA and ELIKS in the amount of 33 million euro remain outstanding. The return of this money apparently will be a big setback for Minev and Mutafchiev, who have managed to drain it to the offshore company while the scheme “The Universals” was in motion.
The documents described in the previous publication and here, related to the assignments, the transfers and the offshore property are kept in our editorial office and if the prosecutors interested, they can obtain them. They have not claimed such interest so far. This suggests that the described schemes will probably be concealed by the helpful Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office and blurred by the lethargic BNB “Banking Supervision”. Tanev remains missing, but in recent days there were media reports that he had been “contracted” for murder. Mila Georgieva’s location, however, is known and prosecutors could question her about the presented evidence. By now, even the children know that these institutions are controlled “manually” by Deliyan Peevski, who transferred his loans to FIB, and will not allow an incident with his financial donor.
The real big setback, however, is still forthcoming, because Minev, Mutafchiev and Tanev have also touched a huge amount of European money through VM CORPORATION. You can read in the sequel of this story about the case, which will without doubt attract the attention of OLAF.
To be continued…
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