Bulgarian prosecutors press charges after Gambling Commission raid

Bulgarian prosecutors raided the Gambling Commission on January 29, detaining its head Alexander Georgiev for questioning, reports in Bulgaria media said. This was the second time prosecutors raided the commission in the space of two weeks.

According to Bulgarian National Radio, 18 of the commission’s employees were also taken in for questioning, but it was not clear if any of them were detained.

Separately, prosecutors raided the Sofia offices of Nove Holding, the company owned by controversial Bulgarian businessman Vassil Bozhkov. Nove Holding has diversified interests and owns several of Bulgaria’s largest bookmakers and lottery operators.

After the raid, prosecutors said that Bozhkov was facing seven separate charges, but gave no further details. According to reports in Bulgarian media, these included leading an organised crime group, extortion and attempted bribery.

Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev said that Bozhkov was not in Bulgaria and would be the subject of an European arrest warrant.

Bozhkov gave several media interviews throughout the day, saying that no one got in touch with him and was not aware of any charges against him. He said that he was prepared to present himself if subpoenaed.

The Gambling Commission raid comes just weeks after a bill was tabled in Parliament that proposed to ban private lottery games. Media reports have claimed that some of those private operators did not pay their taxes and fees in full, with the shortfall estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of leva range.



The Sofia Globe staff

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