Bulgaria’s credit millionaires with State Security links to be identified before May elections

The names of Bulgaria’s credit millionaires with links to the country’s communist-era State Security and military intelligence secret services are to be announced before the May 12 2013 elections, according to Dossier Commission head Evtim Kostadinov.

Amid the disarray that followed the end of the Zhivkov era, large sums of money were funnelled through various schemes, laying the foundation for the enormous wealth held by some contemporary Bulgarian business people.

The Dossier Commission, the body created by statute in Bulgaria in 2006 to examine communist-era secret records and identify people with links to State Security and Bulgarian People’s Army military intelligence, had its powers widened by 2012 amendments that authorised it to check up on credit millionaires. Identities of any media bosses in Bulgaria, among others in the country that benefited from “red briefcases” and other forms of support from networks dating from the communist period, are also expected to be under scrutiny.

Kostadinov told local media that the names of credit millionaires who had collaborated with State Security would be announced before the elections. He said that the commission had been faced with huge amounts of information to be processed before findings could be announced.

The numbers of companies involved in the investigation runs into several thousand. After the Zhivkov era, schemes involving bad loans and failed banks left huge sums of money in the hands of some, while many Bulgarians were hard-hit as their bank deposits evaporated.

The changes to the law enabling the identification of credit millionaires who worked with the secret services were approved in October 2012, after a protracted process. Politicians with ties to the old order have shown characteristic resistance to disclosures by the commission.

In October 2012, Dossier Commission member Ekaterina Boncheva told local media that the check by the commission into credit millionaires was the body’s largest-scale investigation, involving several thousand individuals.

Boncheva said at the time that central Bulgarian National Bank was actively assisting in the investigation. She said that information also was being sought from private banks, the National Statistics Institute, the State Archives, the Registry Agency and records of companies at all courts in Bulgaria.

She said that money had been channeled through three streams, State Security agents, senior finance officials and senior Bulgarian Communist Party officials.

She said that if at the moment the money distributed through bad loans scams was available, it would amount to more than two trillion leva in the current denomination of the local currency, and Bulgaria would hardly be looking around for money to pay for hospitals.

Previously, Dossier Commission head Evtim Kostadinov has said that a 1997 list of bank loans compiled by Bulgarian National Bank was being used in the investigation. More than 10 000 companies had to be checked, also to establish who was in charge of them at the time the loans were taken out.

Kostadinov has said that the point of the exercise is to bring into the light the truth about serious financial crimes during Bulgaria’s transition to democracy.

In some cases, credit millionaires living outside Bulgaria are the subject of long-standing requests by Bulgaria to extradite them.

Bulgaria’s constitution and legislation do not allow lustration.

(Photo: Kevin Garcia/sxc.hu)





The Sofia Globe staff

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