Sofia City Court ruled on May 5 to dismiss the case brought by prosecutors against former deputy speaker of Bulgarian Parliament, Hristo Biserov, saying it did not present sufficient proof in support of the charges. The ruling can be appealed, but prosecutors can also accept the court’s decision and file the charges at a later date, after updating the bill of indictment.
Last month, the prosecutor’s office filed charges of large-scale tax evasion, breaking the law on currency transactions and document fraud, for failing to submit accurate asset declarations as an elected official. If convicted, Biserov would face up to eight years in jail for the tax avoidance charges, with the other two crimes carrying lesser prison terms. Prosecutors did not file charges of money laundering despite investigating such alleged activities.
Since then, the court has impounded assets worth 1.55 million leva, or about 792 500 euro, held by Biserov and his stepson Ivailo Glavinkov, while the head of Bulgaria’s asset forfeiture commission has said that the body would seek more than seven million leva worth of assets from Biserov.
Biserov was serving as member of Parliament for the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms and deputy Speaker in November 2013, when he surprisingly resigned from all leadership positions in the party and from Parliament, citing personal reasons.
Just days later, on November 7 2013, prosecutors said that they opened an investigation against Biserov and Glavinkov, after receiving a report from the State Agency for National Security (SANS) detailing suspicious movement of funds from accounts in other European countries. Biserov and Glavinkov also made term deposits, withdrew cash and transferred funds to companies registered in the Seychelles, according to the SANS report, as quoted by the prosecutor’s office statement at the time.
(Photo of Hristo Biserov on an MRF campaign poster: dps.bg)