The steady drip of indictments in the investigation into the events that led to the collapse of Bulgaria’s fourth-largest lender, Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), continued on April 9 as the prosecutor’s office said it pressed charges against another official in the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) bank supervision department.
Sofia city prosecutors indicted Slaviana Danailova-Veleva, team leader in one of the directorates of the bank supervision department, on charges of malfeasance in office, accusing her of failing to carry out her direct duties and interfering with regulatory checks carried out by central bank employees, the prosecutor’s office said.
Speaking to reporters before the weekly sitting of the Supreme Judiciary Council on April 9, Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov declined to comment whether the sudden burst of activity in recent days was a sign that the investigation could be headed to court soon, saying that it was merely a sign that prosecutors were ready to “expand the circle of the accused individuals”.
Asked whether it was possible for BNB employees to have breached the law without the knowledge of central bank governor Ivan Iskrov, Tsatsarov said: “I am not exonerating or predicting the fate of the BNB governor, but keep in mind that the BNB Act gives the bank supervision department a degree of independence rarely seen in other central banks. The bank supervision is practically a state inside the state.”
In addition to the five people indicted this week, prosecutors have earlier pressed charges against another former BNB deputy governor in charge of bank supervision, Tsvetan Gounev, and five former senior managers at the bank.
Majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev was accused in absentia of embezzling 206 million leva (about 105 million euro) from the bank – he is currently in Serbia, fighting an extradition request lodged by Bulgarian authorities, and denies any wrongdoing.
CCB was put under the central bank’s special supervision in June 2014 and lost its banking licence in November, after an audit ordered by BNB recommended writing down 4.2 billion leva in impaired assets. A high court rejected last week the appeal lodged by shareholders against BNB’s decision to repeal CCB’s licence and insolvency proceedings against the lender are scheduled to begin next week.
(For full coverage of the CCB situation from The Sofia Globe, click here. Bulgarian National Bank photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer.)