Businessman said to be linked to VIS-2 group shot dead in Sofia

Vesselin “Fat Vesko” Stoimenov (53), an owner of several companies and said to be linked to the former controversial VIS-2 group, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at a gated luxury residential complex on Bulgarian capital city Sofia’s Simeonovsko Chaussee Boulevard on the night of January 7.

Stoimenov had been seen as the successor to Lokomotiv Plovdiv football club owner Georgi Iliev, shot dead at the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach in August 2005, and who had headed the VIS group after Iliev’s brother Vassil was shot dead in Sofia in 1995.

Stoimenov had carried out the legal liquidation of VIS-2, Bulgarian National Television said. VIS-2 was set up after VIS, a security and insurance company alleged to have fronted for organised crime, was declared illegal in 1994.

He died instantly after being hit by seven bullets, with several more shots also having been fired, BNT said.

Stoimenov owned several companies, among them one operating tourist excursion boats on the Ropotamo River at Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

Some hours after the shooting, a car was found burnt out near the Winter Palace in Sofia. Investigators believe that it may have been used as a getaway car, then set on fire in an attempt to destroy forensic evidence.

Stoimenov was from the Black Sea city of Bourgas, and for some years was a manager in the hotel business in Sunny Beach. In the late 1990s, he was employed by companies said to have been owned by Georgi Iliev, who by the peak of his career was said to have been among the richest Bulgarians with a fortune of several hundred million leva.

According to Bulgarian National Radio, after Georgi Iliev’s death, his businesses were distributed among several people, notably Stoimenov. Police are investigating several lines of inquiry, including that Stoimenov’s murder was the result of business conflicts.



The Sofia Globe staff

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