Bulgaria court acquits two former Cabinet ministers, businessmen, over privatisation deal

Bulgaria’s Specialised Criminal Court acquitted at first instance on June 28 two former Cabinet ministers and four business people on charges in connection with the 2011 privatisation of a 33 per cent state stake in power utility EVN.

Those acquitted are former finance minister Simeon Dyankov, former economy minister and current mayor of Sofia’s Sredets district Traicho Traikov, and business people Ivo Prokopiev, Radoslav Rachev, Lyubomir Evstatiev and Petar Vassilev.

Dyankov was finance minister from 2009 to 2013 in Boiko Borissov’s first government, in which Traikov held the economy and energy portfolio from 2009 to 2012.

The charges, lodged in 2017, were that Prokopiev had incited Dyankov in connection with the deal, with Dyankov alleging slanting the criteria to benefit Prokopiev’s Bulbrokers company, while Traikov was charged with negligence because as the minister, he was responsible for the state shares in the energy distribution companies.

Prosecutors alleged that the EVN deal had caused 20 million leva damage to Bulgaria’s state coffers.

Dyankov joined the June 28 court proceedings by Skype from the United States (arrivals in Bulgaria from the US are currently barred because of the Covid-19 pandemic), asking to be acquitted because, he said, he had committed no crime.

Traikov said that allegations against him were “bankrupt”. He asked why, given that shares in the two other power utilities in Bulgaria had been privatised in the same way, no prosecution in connection with them had ensued.

Addressing the court before it pronounced its verdict, Prokopiev said that the state-owned enterprises that had not been privatised were now losing billions. He said that the case had nothing to do with the share deal, but was part of systematic pressure on the media he owns.

Reacting to the acquittals, prosecutors said that they would appeal against them in a court of second instance, and if necessary, appeal to a court of final instance.

(Archive photos: Traikov, left, and Dyankov)

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