Lawyers for firm at centre of Bulgaria’s apartments controversy: Tsvetanov transaction ‘legal and standard’

Counsel for Arteks Engineering, the company at the centre of a political controversy over acquisitions of apartments by four Bulgarian ruling party politicians, has issued a statement describing an apartment purchase by GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov as “legal and standard” while rejecting various allegations.

Two of the politicians named in the controversy, which involves allegations of getting apartments at below-market prices, Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva and Deputy Sports Minister Vanya Koleva, have resigned their posts.

Like Tsvetanov and Vezhdi Rashidov, head of the parliamentary committee on culture and the media, both deny wrongdoing.

All four are under investigation by Bulgaria’s anti-corruption commission, as is Arteks Engineering.

A statement by an advocate for the company, Milena Gaidarska, specifically addressed the Tsvetanov transaction, reports about which started the political controversy.

The statement said that in June 2018, the company had transferred by title deed the ownership of an apartment, of 239.9 sq m, a garage and the right to build on, to Tsvetanov and his wife. In return, Tsvetanov and his wife transferred to Arteks the ownership of two apartments, of a total 192.76 sq m, together with two underground garages and shares of land ownership. To compensate for the difference in value, Tsvetanov paid 100 000 leva, the lawyer said.

The statement said that the two apartments transferred by Tsvetanov were in the same neighbourhood in Sofia on equally prestigious streets.

The apartment Tsvetanov got was newly-built, while the two smaller apartments received in return had been upgraded and were well furnished, while ownership of adjacent land also had been transferred.

These pricing factors justified the equivalence of the properties, so the compensatory payment took into account only the difference in the square metres of the properties, the statement said.

The statement rejected claims that Tsvetanov had acquired the luxury apartment at a price of 342 852 leva. This was the tax assessment of the apartment, which was stated in the title deed as required by law.

“The transaction is legal and standard, carried out within the main scope of activity of the company, implemented in the form required by the law and in compliance with all legal requirements,” the lawyer said.

The statement said that after reviewing and analysing various media reports and public statements, Arteks would take court action, including claims for damages, “against all individuals and organisations who, with slanderous and reprehensible allegations, are undermining the impeccable commercial reputation of the company”.



The Sofia Globe staff

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