Bulgaria Prosecutor-General orders new probes into apartment acquisitions, including by anti-corruption head

Acting on media reports, Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has ordered investigations into property acquisitions by anti-corruption commision head Plamen Georgiev, the wife of Supreme Court of Cassation head Lozan Panov and the son of National Investigation Service director Borislav Sarafov.

The investigations, announced on April 4, will be conducted by the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office and the National Revenue Agency.

Georgiev said on April 4 he would take leave until the investigation was completed.

The investigation into Georgiev and his wife will cover allegations of false declarations of circumstances regarding property, an apartment in Sofia, acquired by him and his wife, as well as allegations that the origin of the funds for the purchase was not proven. Documents to be requested include the title deed and bank records about the mortgage.

The allegations involving the son of Sarafov involves allegations that he acquired real estate of considerable value in 2018 and 2019 without the origin of the funds being clear, and that Sarafov failed to declare the assets to the Supreme Judicial Council inspectorate as required by law.

The investigation into Panov and his wife involves the acquisition of an apartment in Sofia from Arteks Engineering by Panov’s wife. Points to be covered include alleged conflict of interest, the origin of the funds and whether tax laws were complied with.

Arteks Engineering is already under investigation after being named as the company from which a number of politicians linked to Bulgaria’s ruling majority acquired apartments at allegedly below-market prices. The company, as well as all the figures named in the investigations so far, denies wrongdoing.

The investigations announced earlier led to the resignations of the Justice Minister, two deputy ministers and the head of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party parliamentary group from the National Assembly.

Georgiev said that he would co-operate fully with the investigation.

“I hereby declare that I have always respected the law, and that in my work I have been guided by high moral principles and professional standards,” Georgiev said, adding that the investigation would show that he had not broken any laws.

He said that the actions his body had taken against corruption and to confiscate illegally-acquired property were highly appreciated in the European Commission’s reports by Bulgaria’s EU partners “and the results achieved inevitably led to a reaction from those affected”.

“It is they who are at the heart of the campaign against me,” Georgiev said, adding he was taking leave so that there could be no suspicion that he would in any way influence the results of the investigation.

Borissov, speaking to journalists on April 4, said that his GERB party had “set a high standard” in responding to allegations of irregularities, through the resignations of the office-bearers. He said that those named on April 4 in the new investigations should either resign or take long leave.

(Archive photo: Bulgaria Prosecutor-General Tsatsarov)



The Sofia Globe staff

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