Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency and the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) have both announced that they would investigate the list of public figures, including politicians, elected officials and magistrates, who had deposits in the insolvent Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) or received loans from the bank.
The list was made public earlier this week by the state deposit guarantee fund, which is CCB’s largest creditor, in line with amendments passed by Parliament last year, which allowed lifting bank secrecy rules in the case of insolvent lenders.
The 46-page list included a number of politicians and magistrates, as well as spouses of public figures, who had deposits in CCB, the country’s fourth-largest lender by assets when it asked to be put under the central bank’s administration in June 2014.
The most high-profile names, such as Movement for Rights and Freedoms honorary chairperson Ahmed Dogan, Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov and former prime minister Ivan Kostov, had been named in previous disclosures by the fund or had publicly confirmed that they held deposits in the bank before it became insolvent.
On February 10, the revenue agency said that it was looking into the list to ascertain the origin of the funds held in those accounts. Bulgarian National Television quoted the agency’s spokesperson, Rossen Buchvarov, as saying that there was no timeframe for the agency’s checks and it was unclear when the results would be made public.
The SJC, which held its weekly meeting on February 11, said that its ethics committee would compare the figures from the list with the asset declarations that magistrates are required to submit at the end of each year. In case of discrepancies, magistrates could face disciplinary proceedings, the head of the ethics committee, Yassen Todorov, was quoted as saying by specialist judiciary news website Legalworld.bg.
However, the list compiled by the bankruptcy receivers only states the maximum amount on deposit between November 2009 and November 2014, when the lender lost its banking licence, while asset declarations are submitted at the end of each year and only reflect the assets held at the time of filing, so it was possible that even in case of a discrepancy, the magistrates in question might not be in breach of the law, the report said.
(For full coverage of the CCB situation from The Sofia Globe, click here. Logo and corporate motto of Corporate Commercial Bank – “our clients are dear to us” – from a CCB advert. Screengrab from corpbank.bg)