The saga with the former “French Unemployed” and former Bulgarian Minister Ivan Danov has an unexpected continuation. Тhe prosecution finally sprung to action, became involved and launched pre-trial proceedings, but not against Danov for abuse of the French social services. The proceedings are against the Editor-in-Chief of Bivol Atanas Tchobanov. He is subject to pre-trial proceedings in the Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office for libel under Article 286 of the Penal Code. After Ivan Danov filed a complaint, prosecutor Deyan Slavov has determined that there is evidence of a crime and has launched a criminal case in whose context Special Surveillance Devices can be applied.
The probe against Ivan Danov, for having submitted in France false declarations that gave him access to 1,700 euro a month for eight months, was terminated without turning at all into pre-trial proceedings. The substitute prosecutor in this probe is the infamous Boryana Betsova from the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, who is said to be close to the party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). She terminated the probe against controversial Bulgarian lawmaker (DPS) Delyan Peevski and his mother that was launched on a signal of activists from the so-called “protest network”. After that Betsova started hunting the senders of the signal and launched a probe in their income. Prosecutor Betsova also “excelled” in the legal charges against former high-ranking DPS functionary and former lawmaker Hristo Bisserov, which she submitted without including “money laundering” in them. How exactly Betsova became prosecutor in the case against Danov is a separate and very interesting case study for which Bivol preparing a separate publication.
Prosecutor Betsova’s decree shows that she has accepted in full the legal defense thesis of Ivan Danov. He admits a few things that cannot be denied because they are documented – he has submitted an application for social assistance in France, then left for Bulgaria and started working as a lecturer at the University for Architecture Civil Engineering and Geodesy, and while he was in Bulgaria, he has received from the French Employment Services a total of 12,772.89 euro.
Danov denies facts for which incriminating documents are not yet available – he says he had not been submitting monthly declarations; had not gone to interviews with the social services in France; he did not know that he was receiving social assistance and had not used the money from the Employment Services.
The situation, as described by Danov, is impossible, both in theory and in practice. Every French unemployed frets missing the date of their monthly declaration because if they fail to submit it, their benefits are suspended immediately, like with the stroke of a knife. This case concerns precisely social assistance that is granted by a public service to people actively seeking work and not a compensation paid by the employer in case of a layoff. This situation is true now and was true in 2004, as explicitly demonstrated by the text of the law and by the rules of the Employment Services. And the rule is simple – no declaration, no money, every month. Every three or four months, the unemployed are summoned to appear for an interview. If they fail to appear, they are removed from the registry and the aid stops. The unemployed also lose their status if they declare that they are going abroad for more than 35 days.
Circumstances, which Ivan Danov denied before the judiciary, are easily verifiable and his statements are rebuttable. It is enough to send an official request to the French Employment Services and to carefully review the bank statements for Danov’s account. Betsova, however, did neither.
According to the explanations given by Danov, he simply forgot about his French account (with at least 7,500 euro accrued from his previous work in France) and started working in Bulgaria for 200 euro per month. In the documents in the case, terminated by Betsova, however, there is irrefutable evidence from the Interior Ministry’s Border Police of Danov’s travels to France precisely in the period when the social assistance was to be received and when he was supposed to appear in person at the Employment Services for interviews. Interviews, which are registered in the information systems and the personal presence of Danov during them, can be proven.
WHO pays and withdraws from Danov’s bank accounts?
One of Danov’s claims before the prosecution is that he had not used the money from the social assistance and this has been done by “ill-intended third parties”. Bivol has bank statements from Ivan Danov’s account which show that welfare money was coming into his account, and someone was withdrawing cash from it and paying with a bank card both in Bulgaria and in France.
This someone, who was in possession of Danov’s credit card, had withdrawn on February 28, 2004, 696 euro from a teller counter at a UBB Trust branch in Sofia.
Such “over the counter” withdrawal with a foreign bank card must be accompanied by the presentation of an identity document and the name on it must match the name on the bank card. (See the update below)
On March 8, 2004, there was a transfer in this account from the Employment Services in the amount of 1,678.32 euro. Two weeks later, this same “someone” was doing some shopping, paying small amounts with the card in Paris; bought a train ticket at the “Saint Lazare” station and withdrew twice 600 euro in cash – once from an ATM near the Opera on March 23, and again on March 25 at an ATM near “Commerce” square.
To be even more precise – the cash withdrawals in Paris were done with a debit card, whose number ends in 5340, while the payments and cash withdrawals in Sofia were done with a credit card ending in 3243.
With French welfare on the Bulgarian beach
June 2005 was the last month for which Danov received assistance. In late July, 16 843.61 euro has accumulated in his account in BNP Paribas. With this money, “someone” went to the beach in Bulgaria in August.
The same credit card, ending in 3243, has been used on August 12, 2005, when “someone” withdrew at a teller counter of UBB, near “Universiada” hall in Sofia, 800 euro. Then, this “someone” travelled to the sea. The printout shows that on August 25, 2005, this card was used to buy fuel for 105 levs from OMV Varna. To facilitate the investigating authorities, we note that the printout has a barcode.
Thus, according to Danov’s bank, he received 1,700 euro per month; was withdrawing money and traveling in France and Bulgaria with his legitimate bank cards, which were not declared stolen. According to prosecutor Betsova, who has accepted Danov’s explanations, during all this time he lived modestly in Bulgaria with a 200 euro monthly salary from the University and had no idea what was happening with the money from his “French period”.
What is the amount that Danov most generous abandoned in France? This is easy to establish from the figures in the bank statements. In late February, the account had 16,086 euro. The social assistance started to arrive in October – five months x 1,680 = 8,390 euro. Assuming that Danov has not spent anything before March 2005, than in October 2004 he had at least 7,500 euro in the account. But he went to Bulgaria, started working for 200 euro a month and completely forgot about them?
Political cover-up until the limitation period runs out
The French Employment Services do not want to deal with the case “Danov” because it is political. This became categorically clear from the interview of French TV channel M6 with Rejane Biolet, Head of the Unit for “Preventing and Combating Abuse and Sensitive Cases”, aired in November 2014. Biolet’s reaction, after she was asked about Danov, was quite nervous:
– “Stop! Can you stop the camera. Immediately!
– You know about this case?
– And it’s hard to process?
– It is a political position and I prefer not to answer.
– The political context prevents you from working?
– Political context, oh yeah.
– It is… (pointing up with her hand). Thus, we will not talk.”
The fact is that in France, without political protection, Ivan Danov’s act could have had unpleasant consequences. The French press described the case of an unemployed couple sentenced to five and eight months’ suspended imprisonment and the obligation to recover the unlawfully received 28, 912.65 euro.
“France is sinking because of fraudsters. Before anyone can claim social assistance, they have obligations. Two crooks are standing before you. A couple who acted together. And sank the French social system. Because of the behavior of people like these, others will have nothing to eat,” Prosecutor Cécile Gensac passionately pleaded in Court.
Fortunately for Danov, prosecution in France for false declarations has a limitation period of five years, and the Employment Services have a 10-year deadline to reclaim the improperly granted assistance. To date, this deadline has also expired.
However, the limitation period for criminal breach of trust and trading influence, if it turns out that someone in France has exerted political pressure not to investigate Danov, has not expired. Someone who, like Rejane Biolet’s finger points, is above her in the hierarchy of power.
Update: Tuesday September 8, 2015, 3:10 pm
UBB confirmed for Bivol that withdrawals with a bank card at a teller counter are considered a “cash transaction” and the person who is the holder of the bank card must submit an identity document. “The bank card is checked carefully and requires electronic authorization from the bank that has issued it,” said Anka Kostova, Head of the “Public Relations” Department of the bank. She is adamant that withdrawals by a person whose name on the identity document does not match the one on the bank card are not allowed at UBB. The fact that Danov has withdrawn money at a teller counter and has left his signature on the receipt for the cash transaction is verifiable and refutes his statements before prosecutors that he had “not used” money from the social assistance.
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