Bulgarian prosecutors indict 18 in Corporate Commercial Bank investigation

Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office said on February 22 that it has finished its investigation into the events that led to the collapse of the Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) in 2014, indicting a total of 18 people.

CCB, the county’s fourth-largest lender by assets at the time, asked to be put under special supervision of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) on June 20 2014, following a bank run. An audit several month later found that the bank held mainly impaired assets, requiring a write-down of 4.22 billion leva (about 2.16 billion euro), which led to CCB losing its banking licence in November 2014.

Since its start, the investigation has focused on Tsvetan Vassilev, former majority shareholder and chief executive of CCB, who is currently in Serbia and has been successfully fighting off extradition requests lodged by Bulgarian prosecutors. Vassilev claims that the investigation against him is politically motivated 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).

First charges against Vassilev were pressed in 2014. The final list in the bill of indictment are an accusation that he led an organised crime group; a charge of embezzling cash, presumably referring to the 206 million leva (about 105 million euro) he was earlier accused of; as well as two other charges of embezzlement – one that claims 95 instances and one that claims 49 cases of embezzlement, but the prosecutor’s office statement did not give a total figure for the amount of money Vassilev is accused of embezzling.

A number of former senior officials at the lender have been accused of being part of the organised crime group that Vassilev is alleged to have led and spearheaded. Some of them, but not all, are also facing embezzlement charges.

Two auditors from KPMG Bulgaria, Margarita Goleva and Krassimir Hadjidinev, are also facing embezzlement charges. Three former employees of the central bank – Tsvetan Gounev and Roumen Simeonov, who were deputy governors in charge of bank supervision, as well as Slaviana Danailova, who was team leader in one of the directorates of the bank supervision department of the BNB, have been indicted on charges of mismanagement.

The prosecutor’s office statement said that its investigation produced more than 1000 volumes of evidence, including the results of questioning more than 400 witnesses and 90 forensic reports.

The prosecutors began making the evidence available to the defendants and their legal counsel on February 21. The prosecutor’s office said that the filing of the lawsuit in court would depend on the time that it takes defendants to review the evidence against them.

The full indictment, with personal data and banking information blacked out, would be published in the coming days, the prosecutor’s office 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)



The Sofia Globe staff

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