Bulgaria’s Dossier Commission, the body empowered by law to research and publicly disclose the identities of people who were communist-era State Security agents and collaborators, will be ready to publicly name “credit millionaires” who had State Security links – but is still awaiting approval by Parliament of the necessary changes to the law.
The credit millionaire phenomenon arose in Bulgaria amid the country’s post-communist transition. The scheme involved people taking huge loans from financial institutions, often without proper procedures and collateral, then failing to repay the sums, effectively draining the institutions. In a number of cases, those taking the loans were owners and shareholders of the lending institutions.
On the basis of a list compiled by Bulgarian National Bank, the Dossier Commission previously has said that thousands of firms and individuals would be subject to investigation.
The aim of the exercise is to bring to light links between the former State Security and Bulgaria’s communist-era military intelligence and those involved in serious financial crimes during the early stages of the transition towards democracy.
At least some of the credit millionaires are abroad, in some cases the subjects of attempted extradition attempts by Bulgaria.
The amendments that would open the way for the Dossier Commission to publicly name credit millionaires with State Security links were approved by Parliament’s legal affairs committee in March. The first reading was approved by the House in April. But so far, Parliament has not yet approved the second reading.
The amendments provide for disclosures about those who were sole traders, managers and members of management or supervisory bodies of companies at the time that loans, that subsequently turned bad, were given.
Speaking to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on September 9 2012, Dossier Commission head Evtim Kostadinov said that the investigation had started and findings could be announced but the law did not yet allow this.
He noted that there had been many attempts to limit the work of the Dossier Commission and to repeal the law on its activities.
Kostadinov, in the same interview, said that the Commission also wanted Parliament to expand the timeframe within which people who are or were journalists would be subject to checking for State Security links.
Previous announcements have identified a number of people in the Bulgarian-language media, well-known to local audiences, as having been communist-era secret service agents and collaborators, among them Kevork Kevorkian, Ivan Garelov, Ivo Indjev and Georgi Koritarov.
Kostadinov said that instead of the current law’s provisions for people in the media from 2006 onwards to be checked, this should be expanded to cover journalists from 1989 to date.
(Photo: sanja gjenero)