Following the announcement of central Bulgarian National Bank’s decision to withdraw the licence of Corporate Commercial Bank while authorities began making arrests of the bank’s top officials, Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev offered the insight that “there is evidence of a serious criminal offence in the case of CCB”.
This was among political reactions in Bulgaria to what one politician labelled “the scandal of the century”.
Boiko Borissov, leader of centre-right opposition GERB, the largest party in Bulgaria’s current National Assembly, said in a Facebook post, “unfortunately, my worst prognoses have come to be fulfilled.
“It is clear that those in power knew that the ‘hole’ in the bank was estimated at 3.5 billion leva and that was why they asked the European Commission to allow them to issue securities to this amount,” Borissov said.
“It should be taken into account the fiscal reserve amounts to a little more than six billion leva, according to data presented by MPs with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). However, they forget this 3.5 billion leva the state has to pay for the bank is included in this sum. Besides that, if we add to that possible taking of money from the EU funds if payments start to be made, this will amount to about a billion leva.”
According to Borissov, this means that only about two billion leva remains in the state reserve. If resources from the Guarantee Fund are used, new securities will have to be issued, he said.
“All this means the state Budget has to be revised. The government has to answer many questions – where they will take this money from? Why and who missed his blatant robbery?” Borissov said.
Lyutvi Mestan, head of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third largest party in the current National Assembly and until now the ruling axis partner of the BSP, said that responsibility should be sought on the basis of the audit conducted of CCB.
The centre-right Reformist Bloc, an extraparliamentary grouping with a seat in the European Parliament, said that the CCB case showed how the political mafia had taken over the state at the expense of Bulgarian taxpayers and depositors.
Reformist Bloc spokesperson Radan Kanev proposed several steps out of the crisis, including Bulgaria immediately initiating an entry into the European Banking Union, single banking supervision in the waiting room of the euro zone.
Kanev said that the “Oresharski” cabinet should resign immediately to make way for a caretaker cabinet to ensure the necessary confidence and stability, and the President should urgently convene the Consultative Council for National Security to agree on the measures proposed.
“State intervention in this case is the only true and possible solution. It ensures that no Bulgarian depositor will lose a lev,” Kanev said.
Nikolai Barekov, the former talk show host who heads the populist Bulgaria Without Censorship party, which has two seats out of Bulgaria’s 17 in the European Pariament, said that the CCB affair was the “scandal of the century”.
Barekov said that it had turned out that Tsvetan Vassilev was draining his own bank, and this was “shocking,” according to Barekov – a figure long seen in anti-government circles, especially the Protest Network, as having been close to Vassilev.
Barekov said that as an MEP, he woudl initiate changes to European legislation to prevent further such bank collapses. “You cannot have a bank being drained by its main shareholder, this is unacceptable and must be stopped by legal measures”.
The Protest Network, that arose in August 2013 out of the DANSWithMe protests, called a “BankWithMe” protest for 6.30pm on July 11 in front of Bulgarian National Bank.
The Protest Network said that “impudent, profligate, dishonest pseudo-management and supervision of the financial system had allowed the creation, feeding and maintenance of monsters, giants with feet of clay. We all pay the price.”
How the CCB scandal unfolded: Bulgaria’s CCB to go into liquidation – timeline