Bulgaria’s Finance Ministry said on February 23 that it would make the report by AlixPartners Services UK LLP, the company hired to track and recover money from the insolvent Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), available to members of Parliament, provided they sign non-disclosure agreements.
However, the full report would not be made available to the public, as that would “endanger the process of recovering bank assets”, the ministry said in a statement.
AlixPartners was hired by CCB bankruptcy receivers in June 2015 and produced the report in September. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov has been strongly opposed to making the report public, prompting MPs from the Reformist Bloc – the centre-right coalition that has a complicated relationship with the government, as some members back the Cabinet and others are in opposition – to file a lawsuit against the ministry.
Last week, Goranov surprisingly changed tack and said that the ministry was in talks with AlixPartners on the issue of public availability of the report. According to the ministry statement on February 23, the firm has agreed to a compromise in making the report available to MPs only.
In its letter, made public by the Finance Ministry, AlixPartners said that it “continues to strongly disagree with the release of the report”, but also notes that it has “reluctantly expressed our willingness” to make the report available to MPs given the “pending debate within Parliament concerning a potential change to the law which would require our report to be published, over-riding our confidential contractual arrangements”.
The letter also emphasises that the conclusions in the five-months-old report reflected the conditions and views as of September 23 2015, which might have changed since then. Finally, the firm specifies that it stands by its English-language report, but would not authorise a Bulgarian language version because “any internal bank translation is not likely to be of sufficient quality and accuracy necessary for third party readership”.
CCB receivers, appointed by the state deposit guarantee fund, face a tough task in recouping the insolvent bank’s assets, which are needed to repay the government bailout of the deposit fund – in 2014, the cabinet lend the guarantee fund more than two billion leva, money that the fund needed to fully pay out depositor claims.
(For full coverage of the CCB situation from The Sofia Globe, click here. Shuttered CCB branch in Sofia’s Lozenets borough. Photo: Alex Bivol)