Sofia City Court is to request further information before deciding on an application for the extradition of a Bulgarian retail chain store executive to Italy to face charges of tax evasion of more than 70 million euro.
Nikolai Kitov, a Technomarket board member and executive, was taken into custody in Sofia on July 7 on the basis of a European arrest warrant issued by Italy. He denies wrongdoing.
The Sofia City Court said on August 3 that it needed to make several requests for further information and only then consider the request for Kitov’s extradition.
Judge Atanas Atanassov gave a deadline of a month for a new translation from Italian into Bulgarian of the European arrest warrant to eliminate ambiguities and uncertainties. Further information was also required about provisions of the Italian criminal code in terms of which Kitov is accused.
The court also wanted an assurance from Italy that after the hearing in that country, Kitov would be returned to detention in remand and possible punishment in Bulgaria.
At the beginning of the Sofia City Court hearing, Kitov’s lawyer asked for the case to be dropped on procedural grounds, including the fact that a European arrest warrant should be sent directly to the executing authority, meaning the court, but in this case it was sent to Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry, which then forwarded it to the court.
Kitov has been on bail since a July 10 hearing by the Sofia City Court. At the August 3 hearing, the court refused an application by prosecutors for stricter detention conditions to be imposed.
Local media quoted Kitov as telling reporters that among companies in the EU, trade was conducted without VAT and the Bulgarian company had no means of committing VAT fraud.
He said that he could not explain why the attack was against Technomarket in particular, a company of which 40 per cent of its exports went to other EU countries.
“This is a case against Bulgarian exports, as it incriminates the activities of Bulgarian exporters. If this is upheld, it will be a precedent. These are actions, which if they are accepted, will be a blow against all exporting companies in Bulgaria,” he said.
At the time of Kitov’s arrest, the company issued a corporate statement denying that it was involved in any form of wrongdoing.