Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov has ordered a check following reports about an “Azerbaijani laundromat”, allegedly involving a $3 billion money-laundering and lobbying scheme, in which Bulgarian representative on the board of directors of the EBRD Kalin Mitrev was named.
“We are keeping an eye on the subject and we are concerned about the information disseminated in the media,” Goranov said in a statement released by the Finance Ministry on September 6.
He said that he had ordered a check into the reports and had asked Mitrev for an explanation.
“On the basis of the information gathered, the government will address the case at its regular meeting on Thursday,” Goranov said.
According to the reports, done by the OCCRP investigative journalism project and reported by the Guardian on September 5, Mitrev did consulting work for an Azeri firm. He received payments through companies in the UK.
The Guardian said that Mitrev acknowledges the payments and says they were for legitimate business consultancy. “He denies all knowledge of the channel used to execute them or the original source of the funds,” the report said.
“All the income generated by activities in different countries has been reported and taxed in my country of residence, Bulgaria,” Mitrev said. His consultancy work stopped when he joined the London bank, he said.
Mitrev’s spouse, Unesco head Irina Bokova, strongly denied that there was a conflict between her husband’s work and her UN role, the Guardian said. She had no knowledge of her husband’s business affairs, she was quoted as saying.
“As the general manager of a UN agency, my duty is to develop sound working relationships with all members of the organization in accordance with the policies set up by the Member States. Azerbaijan is not an exception in this respect,” Bokova said.
Speaking to Bulgarian website 24 Chassa, Mitrev said: “I am used to my family being attacked, usually in search of a way to compromise my wife. It’s not pleasant, but, you know, I have to accept this way of life. I assure you that this attempt will also fail”.