A court in Serbian capital Belgrade has ruled to extradite Tsvetan Vassilev, former majority shareholder in insolvent Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on June 9, quoting sources familiar with the matter.
Vassilev is wanted on charges of embezzling 206 million leva from CCB over a period of several months before the lender asked to be put under the central bank’s supervision in June 2014. He has denied all charges against him and blamed the events that led to CCB’s insolvency on his former business associate Delyan Peevski, the controversial MP for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF).
CCB lost its banking licence in November 2014 after an audit found it held mainly impaired assets, as a significant part of its loan portfolio was not backed by sufficient collateral, and had to write-down 4.2 billion leva in assets.
Bulgarian authorities have been trying to secure Vassilev’s extradition for the past 18 months, having filed an extradition request in September 2014. Last year, reports in Bulgarian media said that a Serbian court had ruled to extradite Vassilev, but the decision was overturned on appeal a week later.
Vassilev’s lawyers were expected to appeal the court’s decision. BNT said that the Serbian court declined to rule on the “political aspects” of the case, namely Vassilev’s application to obtain Serbian citizenship and his request for political asylum.
According to BNT, the two-year deadline for the investigation against Vassilev expires next month, making it likely that the trial against him will proceed in absentia if an extradition cannot be secured in time.
(For full coverage of the CCB situation from The Sofia Globe, click here. Photo of Vassilev from his personal website, vassilev.bg)