Banker Tsvetan Vassilev in the company of lawmaker Delyan Peevski
“At that time (2011 – editor’s note), the only media that I had something in common with, as a consultant and as a minority partner in a fund for risk investments, was TV7,” banker Tsvetan Vassilev claims in an interview for Deutsche Welle. In the same interview, he also asserts: “I never and in no shape and form have invested in NBMG’s newspapers” (New Bulgarian Media Group is owned by Irena Krasteva, Delyan Peevski’s mother – editor’s note).
An investigation of Bivol already proved with documents that banker Tsvetan Vassilev, through his companies Bromak, Ken Trade and TC-IME has owned 50% stake in the publishing group New Bulgarian Media Group Holding JSC. This happened in 2008. Later, the shares of Bromak (owned solely by Vassilev) in TC-IME were transferred to the offshore company EFV INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL, represented by Veneta Nikolova, who is still currently on the board of the newspaper “Borba” (Fight), published by Irena Krasteva. Irena Krasteva bought out all shares of TC-IME on March 13, 2009, and the link with Vassilev was broken. According to a probe of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations, VKP, on a tipoff of Member of the Parliament Mitko Dimitrov, Krasteva’s money came from a loan granted by Tsvetan Vassilev’s Corporate Commercial Bank, KTB.
Peevski’s Mother Is Also in TV7
By the end of March 2009, Krasteva held the post of director in TV SEVEN LLC, and in the company owner CROWN MEDIA LLC. Krasteva entered the board of the television a year earlier, after Lyubomir Pavlov sold it and the ownership was transferred from the English company CROWN MEDIA to a Cypriot offshore company with the same name.
The current management of TV7, which includes TV host and wannabe politician Nikolay Barekov, regularly points out that the television is owned by the British company Alegro Capital. The true picture of the property is actually much more complex, an investigation of Bivol showed, performed within the large-scale study of media ownership in Bulgaria by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP, (the full results of the study will be published later this month).
Eight Levels of Offshore Companies
To arrive at Alegro Capital’s ownership, TV Seven LLC, with a capital of 32,118,830 levs, passes through the Bulgarian company Crown Media LLC, which is owned by Crown Media with capital of 1,710 euros, which in turn is owned by another Cypriot company – Haggarly Investment with capital of 1,000 euros (see attached links with documents).
Haggarly Investment, in turn, is owned by Alegro Capital (UK), which had 1,392,819 pounds in operating loss in 2011. This is where the first individuals listed as partners appear: American Christian Bergmann and Canadian Justin Fogarty. In addition to them, AC (Corporate Member), Hawk Capital of the island of Jersey, and the British company Media Partners Finance also have ownership in Alegro Capital.
The documents in the English trade registry, which Bivol has (see attached files), don’t reveal who has what participation in Alegro Capital.
The ownership of Media Finance Partners leads to two individuals: German citizen Patrick Martin, who is on the board of TV Seven JSC, and Vanessa Sterling, a “subject of the British Crown.”
AC (Corporate Member) also has a known owner – this is Christian Bergmann, who has participated as an individual shareholder in Alegro Capital.
The island offshore company Hawk Capital is the most mysterious one – two other offshore firms from Jersey stand behind it: Damor Investments LTD and Cacique Investments LTD. Their ownership leads trough three levels to the Royal Canadian Bank, registered as a company in Luxembourg.
The names of Tsvetan Vassilev as a “consultant and minority partner” or KTB don’t appear anywhere in the whole scheme. The interest in a Bulgarian TV channel of Alegro Capital, which, according to its annual reports, has millions in losses remains questionable. Why does the ownership of the television go through two Cypriot offshore companies with little capital? Why does another offshore company stand behind the ownership of Alegro Capital? Is it at all possible to arrive at the end individuals who own Alegro?
All these questions must find answers in the new Media Bill, which was written with the active participation of MP Delyan Peevski. His contribution involved precisely transparency and restrictions of offshore property, his colleague Yordan Tsonev announced. As the attached diagrams show, the owners of TV7 are about to undertake really major work to be compatible with the future law.
Ownership in “Enemy” Media
In the same interview with Deutsche Welle, Tsvetan Vassilev speaks about media he considers hostile:
“Besides Economedia, many of its internet satellites, some of which have unidentified ownership (I mean Mediapool, Offnews, Bivol, PIK and several tabloid sites that gravitate around Economedia and use the same rhetoric), have the same attitude towards media and websites voicing opinions other than their own. They do not like to hear anything that is antagonistic to their views and every journalist who falls under suspicion of disagreeing with them is immediately suspected of being connected to me, or to be included in some other world conspiracies.”
The ownership of Bivol is absolutely transparent. This site is published by the Bulgarian company Bivol LTD., with owners Asen Yordanov and Alberta Alkalay, both Bulgarian citizens. The situation is similar with the other mentioned media. All their end owners are clearly identified; they are Bulgarian individuals with known professional and social background. None of these persons is concealed by offshore companies. There is no financial or other “satellite” connection between Economedia (owned by Ivo Prokopiev and Theodore Zahov ) on one hand, and the quoted sites on the other: Mediapool (owned by Stoyana Georgieva), Offnews (owned by Vlado Yonchev and Yavor Dimitrov), PIK (owned by Nedyalko Nedyalkov ), and Bivol (owned by Asen Yordanov and Alberta Alkalay). Bivol reserves the right to respond to the allegations of banker Tsvetan Vassilev, which damage the reputation of the media, by using the established legal procedure.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian