The specifications of the Finance Ministry explicitly say that catchers should be able to record up to 4 simultaneous conversations (the full file is available in the annex to this article).
The eavesdropping „Catchers“ cannot record voice; they can only scan the location of cell phones. This was because the British government did not allow the British company (Cobham – editor’s note) to install eavesdropping software as in Bulgaria there is no guarantee that it would not be used for illegal wiretapping. Such was the argument of Menko Menkov, lawyer of former Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov (who is a defendant in an illegal spying case – editor’s note), stated in the political talk show “Na Svetlo” (In the Clear) of journalist Lyuba Kulezich on Nova TV on January 31.
„They cannot spy Ms. Kulezich. Investigators and prosecutors are fully aware of this. The latter have even conducted a reenactment during their investigation, but the record of it is missing in the case’s documents and is likely located in separated items that will never see,“ Menkov also said.
Lawyer Menkov inflicted more harm than good with this statement, and slapped his client Tsvetanov directly in the face. The reason – the Interior Ministry has ordered technology that should be able to do recordings and confirmed before the Ministry of Finance with a written statement that it has received such equipment.
Certainly, money under the European „Schengen“ mechanism was paid for a recording catcher, not just for a scanning one and this fact is established by two documents of the Ministry of Finance.
First – there is a public specification in the contract for the intercepting devices, released by the Ministry of Finance, in which it is noted in writing that the technology should be able to record up to 4 conversations.
Second, Bivol requested and received from the Ministry of Finance information under the Access to Public Information Act, APIA, (U-APIA-53/06.11.2013), which states that a special committee from the Ministry of Interior has received technology with the described characteristics and there is a respective delivery report.
This information was requested by Bivol in connection with another investigation, which established that the equipment’s manufacturer is MMI Research Product UK (www.mmiresearch.co.uk), a subsidiary of Cobham (www.cobham.com). Bivol’s sources, close to the investigation, claimed that the supplier „Lomini“ Ltd. did not provide any service or technical documentation for the equipment and for this reason a letter rogatory had to be sent to England.
The Ministry of Finance, however, insists that the Interior Ministry has confirmed receipt of user manuals and operating instructions in English and Bulgarian. Bivol sent a request for the same information to the Interior Ministry (№ APIA-229/08.11.2013, Directorate Coordination and Informational and Analytical Activities of the Interior Ministry), but so far the latter has not sent a reply.
„Lomini,“, which is owned by a former employee of the Interior Ministry’s Technical Directorate (SDOTO), Hristo Stoyanov, refused to answer Bivol’s inquiry of what exact technology was delivered and at what cost, citing confidentiality clauses in the contract with the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Finance. The inquiry to Cobham also remains unanswered.
If what lawyer Menkov said on TV is correct and Cobham failed to deliver equipment with the described characteristics, but nevertheless the technology was paid for under a European program, the prosecution must launch another case against Tsvetanov – for incorrect delivery record and financial damage. As Bivol wrote, if Bulgarian prosecutors decide to remain inactive, then the future European Prosecutor’s Office would hardly overlook this misuse of European funds.