Four arrested, Bulgaria’s political storm continues over Corporate Commercial Bank

In all, four people have by now been arrested in connection with the alleged draining of close to 206 million leva (about 103 million euro) from Corporate Commercial Bank, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) said on July 13.

On July 11, when central Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) announced that it was withdrawing Corporate Commercial Bank’s licence and handing the results of a special audit to prosecutors, it was announced that there had been two arrests, of chief executive Orlin Rusev and chief cashier Margarita Petrova.

At the time of the July 11 announcement by BNB, Corporate Commercial Bank majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev, who denies wrongdoing, was out of the country.

BNR said that four people would be brought before Sofia City Court for a ruling on their being remanded in custody in connection with charges related to allegedly illegally moving sacks of money out of Bulgaria.

The audit of Corporate Commercial Bank found that 3.5 billion leva was missing from its portfolio.

BNB governor Ivan Iskrov said that, acting through third persons, Vassilev had withdrawn the close to 206 million leva on June 19, a day before the bank’s operations were suspended when it was put under special supervision because of liquidity problems.

President Rossen Plevneliev has called special consultations with a range of senior state and government office-bearers on July 14, and at these consultations, BNB will present its proposed special draft legislation on the bankruptcy of Corporate Commercial Bank, the transfer of its “sound” deposits and assets to subsidiary Credit Agricole and the nationalising of Credit Agricole.

On Nova Televizia on July 13, Stefan Stefanov, pilot of Vassilev’s aircraft, showed documents that he said proved that Vassilev had not illicitly exported the cash. The documents showed the plane to have been in Vienna from June 16 to 22.

A day earlier, Violina Marinova, chief executive of the DSK Bank – which has no connection to the Corporate Commercial Bank scandal – told Nova Televizia that it was “physically impossible” to withdrawn 200 million leva in cash from a bank.

Meanwhile, a scandal that has caused widespread outrage in Bulgaria, a country traumatised decades ago by bank-draining affairs, predictably continues to reverberate on the political front.

The socialist Speaker of the soon-to-be-dissolved 42nd National Assembly, Mihail Mikov, has criticised BNB for its slow reaction to the Corporate Commercial Bank affair, while the anti-government Protest Network called for the resignations of BNB governor Iskrov and Financial Supervision Commission head Stoyan Mavrodiev.

Centre-right opposition GERB leader Boiko Borissov said on July 12 that his party was opposed to plans by those in power to legislate the guaranteeing in full of deposits at Corporate Commercial Bank, saying that only deposit guarantees of up to 100 000 euro should be applied, as provided for in existing legislation.

Borissov said that the government and the BNB bore personal responsibility for the situation at CCB. He also asked where the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for National Security were when someone illegally exported 200 million leva.

The Reformist Bloc said that the 3.5 billion leva had not gone missing in recent months, but was a matter of a “brutal robbery” right under the nose of the state, which had a control mechanism but did not detect it.

Dragomir Stoynev, economy and energy minister and a bidder to the new leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that there would not be bankruptcies of state-owned companies that had funds in Corporate Commercial Bank. He admitted that initially there had been some problems with paying salaries at state-owned companies, but these already had been overcome.

On July 11, a statement on the BSP website quoted its MP Roumen Gechev as saying that the current government had “no responsibility” for what had happened at Corporate Commercial Bank. He said that it was while GERB was in power that “half the money of the state” went to Corporate Commercial Bank, and Gechev said that the question arose why the money went there.

How the CCB scandal unfolded: Bulgaria’s CCB to go into liquidation – timeline



The Sofia Globe staff

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