Leaks site to name Bulgarians with offshore companies

An investigative site will within days name Bulgarians who have offshore companies and accounts but it is not yet known whether the list will include the names of prominent politicians and business people.

The “Offshoreleaks” reports are the result of work by dozens of journalists in several countries in a project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

“A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over,” the ICIJ site said.

Stefan Candea, of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism in Bucharest, whose aegis covers Bulgaria, told media in Sofia that there were no “big names” in the Bulgarian list.

It is expected that the first Bulgarian names will be of people with accounts in the British Virgin Islands.

Going by central Bulgarian National Bank figures, from 1989 to date, offshore companies registered in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands have transferred to Bulgaria the equivalent of 783.9 million euro, of which 721.5 million euro was from companies in the British Virgin Islands.

In turn, companies registered in Bulgaria have moved 9.2 million euro to the British Virgin Islands and 4.6 million euro to the Cayman Islands. Local media said that there were 382 Bulgarian companies registered on the British Virgin Islands.

In all, of the sum total of foreign direct investment in Bulgaria to the end of 2011, 13 per cent or 4.6 billion euro came from offshore companies.

The biggest involvement has been with Cyprus, with companies registered offshore on the Mediterranean island investing 2.317 billion leva.

Other offshore involvements by Bulgarians are reported to include companies registered in Malta, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Candea told Bulgarian National Radio that it was currently difficult to say precisely how many Bulgarians have offshore accounts but he said that several Bulgarian names had turned up so far during examination of the documents. At this stage, no one had been able to read all the documents, he said.

Yane Yanev, leader of the minority Order Law and Justice party, told local media that in the past 20 years, more than 15 to 20 billion leva had been “hidden” in offshore accounts.

He said that soon there would be public disclosures about people who had concealed income and assets, and said that the list included Bulgarian politicians, business people, trade unionists and “two or three” people with opinion polling agencies.

(Photo: Darren Deans/sxc.hu)




The Sofia Globe staff

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