Bivol's search engines instantly reveal circles of companies and dream team clusters

“Who” Absorbs Public Money for Private Business

Quantitative increase in substance, once it reaches a critical threshold, results in a qualitative transformation, historical materialism teaches us.

Quantitative increases of money distributed by the State often lead to malignancies.

Alongside the accumulated State money, circles of companies connected to political parties are being formed and “best men” and “cousin” clusters known as “dream teams” become consolidated. Their goal, if not to steal, is at least to get rich in the easy way – without competition, without innovation, with a minimal amount of labor.

As investigative journalists, our priority goal is to uncover and shed light on all these forms of corrupt distribution, targeting and draining of public resources.

For several years now, Bivol has been analyzing the amount of money the State has allocated to private businesses. To date, we can confidently identify the companies and individuals that have absorbed or are in the process of absorbing the following public funds

BGN 74.191,590,398 (seventy-four billion) in concluded public procurement contracts since 2007, of which 18.231,885,023 are under different European programs and 55.959,705,375 are from the budget.

BGN 15.835,711,445 (fifteen billion) in European funding under the Operational Programs for the two programming periods 2007-2013 and 2014-2020

BGN 4.007,177,683 (four billion) in European funding under the Rural Development Program (RDP) 2007-2013. The infamous guesthouses are built with money from this program.

We still do not have updated figures for BGN 4 billion from RDP for the 2014-2020 period but we are doing everything we can to get them.

Over time, we have perfected our databases, which have always been and will remain public and are funded by our readers.

We have now launched a new tool that merges data from the Trade Register, the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) and the Unified Management Information System for the EU Structural Instruments (UMIS), which readers can use to view the following on a single screen with a few clicks:

– How much public procurement and European funds has a firm absorbed?

– How much public procurement and European funds have been absorbed by companies related to a particular person?

– How much public procurement and funds have been absorbed by companies connected to business partners of a particular person (second level of connectivity);

These data are accurate and are based on matching the so-called unified identification codes of companies (UIC) in different registers. The fact that the State provides this information with reluctance and even deliberately conceals it, as in the case of data published by the State Fund Agriculture (SFA), is indicative. Despite this obstruction, there are ways to get the codes of the companies as they are not secret and should not be.

We can immediately give a concrete example of how useful this initiative is. Only a year ago we worked hard for weeks to unveil lawmaker Delyan Dobrev’s “dream team”, which has accumulated more than BGN 100 million in public procurement. Today, our optimized search engine shows BGN 133 million with just one click.

As a bonus, we can conduct a search by first and last name to get the following information on the same screen:

– Whether there is evidence that the person has been probed by the “Files Committee” (tasked with studying the Communist-era secret services records – editor’s note);

– Whether there is evidence that the person had an account in the bankrupt Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB);

– Whether there is evidence that this is a politically exposed person.

Our hope is that this tool will be actively used by civil society to identify nepotism and cronyism “dream teams” and alert about them.

Everyone can search by names of lawmakers, a local municipal councilor, a party functionary, or their relatives, and find out whether or not these people are forming the so-called “circle” absorbing a public resource.

Today, data journalism is unbeatable and professionally binding, but it is not an end in itself. Bivol combines the information from automatic searches with the classic methods of investigative journalism – working with sources, analyzing documents and sending requests under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA).

So, slowly, but steadily, we are advancing in our mission of mapping the backstage rule and corruption in Bulgaria that stifle any initiative, hinder the talented and pull Bulgarians down into the swamp of poverty and misery – material and spiritual.



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