Sofia prosecutors decline to investigate Peevski

Written by on January 13, 2015 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia prosecutors decline to investigate Peevski

Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has declined to agree to a request by the Protest Network to investigate Delyan Peevski and his mother Irena Krasteva, according to January 12 reports quoting the prosecutor’s office.

The Protest Network, which arose during the 2013 protests that sought the resignation of the then-government after the appointment of Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security, handed prosecutors dossiers in February 2014 containing allegations against Peevski, his mother Krasteva – owner of the publications often referred to as the “Peevski media”, Corporate Commercial Bank majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev and Bulgaria Without Censorship leader Nikolai Barekov.

These allegations, copies of which were sent to various state and government institutions as well as representatives of foreign law enforcement, were contained in various Bulgarian-language media reports.

They included alleged discrepancies between Peevski’s lifestyle and his formally declared income, the rapid manner in which Peevski had been given access to classified information during his short-lived term as head of SANS, allegations regarding trading in political influence, and questions about the financing of the political movement founded around Barekov.

Mediapool quoted a report by supervising prosecutor Boryana Betsova as saying that all the allegations had been examined and analysed in detail and no independent confirmation had been established regarding them.

Betsova declined to initiate an investigation into alleged money laundering on the grounds that this could not happen only if there was a “hypothetical possibility” about it.

The prosecutor declined to check whether it was normal that Peevski got access to classified information in just four days, given that apparently other people got such access only after several months. Betsova said that a check already had been conducted and there was no need to check again.

Prosecutors found no basis for the allegation that Peevski had been involved in trading in influence.

This allegation had been made on the basis of a reported statement he made to an agency – owned by his family – that “his media” had extended “an umbrella” over alleged crime bosses at the request of Tsvetan Tsvetanov at the time that Tsvetanov was interior minister in the first Boiko Borissov government.

According to Mediapool, Betsova did not think that tracking such information would lead to the disclosure of any crime.

As to an allegation that Peevski had unlawfully closed off a street in the Simeonovo residential area of Sofia and placed road signs, with Sofia municipality saying that it had not placed the signs there, prosecutors said that they found no evidence that Peevski had placed the signs.

Further, prosecutors said that there was no evidence that Peevski had committed tax offences. A tax audit for the 2008 to 2012 period found that he had filed tax returns for 2008 and 2009 and in the other three years, had only labour contracts and relations connected to these. The inspection did not identify any discrepancies between Peevski’s income and declarations.

A check of the New Bulgarian Media Group, owned by Krasteva and which subsequently passed into the ownership of a foreign company, found that Krasteva had paid all her obligations to the state, the report said.

Checks of Barekov arising from the allegations handed in by the Protest Network were continuing, while the allegations regarding Vassilev were part of the formal investigation into Corporate Commercial Bank.

Central Bulgarian National Bank put Corporate Commercial Bank under special supervision in June 2014. The central bank withdrew CCB’s licence in late 2014. Legal proceedings are continuing, while Vassilev, who is in Serbia, is expected to face extradition proceedings in connection with alleged large-scale wrongdoing (which he denies).

Speaking on January 13 to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio, Nikolai Staykov of the Protest Network said that the investigation should not have been handled by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office.

Staykov alleged that the spouse of the head of the prosecutor’s office had been an adviser to the MRF MP. He also alleged connections between certain prosecutors and the bank.

He said that lawyers who had volunteered were already familiar with the document and the organisation would continue to seek an institutional response to the question, “who?” – a reference to a protest slogan regarding the question who had been behind Peevski’s appointment to the SANS post.

The impression was left that Peevski was currently strong and no one would dare to go up against him, according to Staykov.

He told BNR that in the past five years, there had been at least four death threats against Peevski. “It turns out that a man who in five years has been threatened four times is as clean as a whistle,” Staykov said.

The transfer of the Interior Ministry and the SANS into the hands of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms had been one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the previous government, according to Staykov.

Another member of the Protest Network, Assen Genov, told local media that the network would appeal against the decision by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office. Lawyers were being consulted and all legal avenues would be pursued, he said.

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