Bulgarian prosecutors change charges against Corporate Commercial Bank accused

Sofia City Prosecutor’s office has amended the charges against four Corporate Commercial Bank officials arrested in connection with alleged siphoning of hundreds of millions of leva from the bank.

The new allegations are that the four accused were involved in embezzling close to 206 million leva from the bank over a period beginning in December 2011 and ending on June 19 2014 – not in a single spate just before Corporate Commercial Bank was placed under special supervision by central Bulgarian National Bank, and nor by involvement in the money being carried away in cash in bags, as was previously alleged.

Sofia City Court convened on July 13 to hear a request from prosecutors for the four – executive director Orlin Roussev, chief cashier Margarita Petrova, chief financial officer Maria Dimova and her deputy Borislava Kyuchukova – to be remanded in custody.

Roussev and Petrova were to face charges of malfeasance while Dimova and Kyuchukova were alleged to have assisted them in covering up the alleged embezzlement.

When BNB governor Ivan Iskrov announced on July 11 the outcome of a special audit of Corporate Commercial Bank, which found about 3.5 billion leva unaccounted for, it was alleged that in just a day, June 19 2014, a third party had withdrawn and conveyed to CCB majority owner Tsvetan Vassilev the equivalent of 205 887 223 leva, variously in euro, dollars and leva.

Responding to the allegations, Vassilev said in a statement on July 11 that he had not been in Bulgaria since June 10, while the allegations were that the money had been handed over on June 19.

Media reports quoted lawyers for the accused as saying that the allegations against the four accused arose from claims by witnesses who had not worked at the bank and had no idea about its procedures.

The main prosecution witness was identified in reports as Biser Lazov, a former partner of Vassilev, while another key witness, Teodora Taneva, was chief executive of one of the companies associated with the bank, report said.

Vassilev, who has denied any wrongdoing, was alleged to have ordered the embezzlement concealed through false documentation on loans to companies.

Before the Sofia City Court hearing began, Hristo Botev, lawyer for Treneva, said that prosecutors had dropped the allegation of millions in cash being handed over in bags.

Botev told reporters that there was no evidence for the allegations against the four.

Prosecutors asked for the four to be remanded in custody because the matter affected the national security of the state.

(Photo: Jason Morrison/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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