Mystery surrounds prosecutor, police raids of company offices in Sofia

Written by on June 13, 2014 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Mystery surrounds prosecutor, police raids of company offices in Sofia

Prosecutors and police searched and seized documents at offices of companies in Sofia, the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office said on June 13, following media reports that the investigations were in connection with allegations against Tsvetan Vassilev, majority shareholder of Corporate Commercial Bank.

Media reports said that the offices of Corporate Commercial Bank as well as TV7 and News7, in the same building, but in separate statements, the bank and the media outlet denied being the subject of investigations.

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office did not name the companies where the June 13 inspections were carried out, but specified that they did not include the buildings of banks and media.

Earlier, Bulgarian news agency BTA quoted police sources as saying that police and prosecutors were searching offices of Corporate Commercial Bank.

Reports said that police had raided a building in the capital city in Tsar Boris III Boulevard, location of TV7 and Corporate Commercial Bank, as well as other offices. Mediapool said that there were a large number of police vehicles at the building. About 50 police and prosecutors were reported to be part of the raids.

Bulgarian National Radio went further, quoting sources to allege that Vassilev was being investigated in connection with reports that he allegedly had ordered the murder of Delyan Peevski, the controversial figure to whom Vassilev long has been seen as close in business relations, although recent media reports suggested that the two had fallen out.

The initial allegation that Vassilev had put out a contract on Peevski was posted on the website of Pik, a media outlet long seen as close to Peevski. In recent months, Pik has been the only website in which interviews with Peevski appeared.

Recently, Peevski’s mother Irina Krasteva sold a range of the media she owned to an Irish concern.

Reports said that some people had been held for questioning on June 13, but Vassilev was not among them. He was said to be out of the country.

In February 2014, the anti-government Protest Network handed a compilation of media reports levelling various allegations against Vassilev, Peevski and Nikolai Barekov, a former talk show host and former TV7 head who now heads the Bulgaria Without Censorship party, to the Prosecutor-General’s office. The Protest Network called for the opening of investigations in connection with the allegations in the dossier.

In turn, CCB complained in March to the Prosecutor-General that the statements in the dossier were false and defamatory.

Prosecutors confirmed this week that staff of CCB, including members of management, had been questioned in connection with allegations made in the dossier handed over by the Protest Network.

Confirmation by Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov on June 12 of an investigation resulted in a strong reaction from the CCB, which accused the government of being allegedly involved in an illegal campaign to undermine the bank’s image.

Tsatsarov told reporters that three people were being investigated. In one case, questioning was proceeding, in the case of a second person tax audits of him and his relatives were close to finalisation, while a third person also was being investigated.

The bank said that it had provided information in response to inquiries from the Prosecutor’s Office. It said it was not aware whether the questions asked related to the dossier submitted by the Protest Network.

Corporate Commercial Bank said that it had always worked transparently and observed all laws. “That is why it will provide all the necessary information and full co-operation to the investigating authorities,” the bank’s statement said.

(Photo: Bart Groenhuizen/sxc.hu)

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