Gambling business family objects to inclusion in Bulgaria’s Magnitsky list

Stefan, Boyan and Tsvetomir Naidenov of gaming company Efbet have lodged documents with various Bulgarian institutions objecting to being listed as persons connected to Vassil Bozhkov, a day after a new list was announced by the Finance Ministry in response to sanctions announced by the United States on June 2.

The ministry issued the list on June 15 as its latest response to the US sanctions against Bozhkov, Delyan Peevski, Ilko Zhelyazkov and companies and persons connected to them, in a move by Washington against corruption in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s caretaker government has directed state-owned enterprises not to do business with those named as connected persons, and has said that such persons should be ineligible to bid in public procurement tenders.

The list posted on June 15 is based on persons being identified as, among others, partners, shareholders and managers of companies connected to those sanctioned. It is based on the current situation and that dating back five years.

The statement from the Naidenovs said the fact that the list was retrospective was “probably (we can only guess) it therefore includes our names”.

“We want to emphasise that we have terminated all relations with the persons affected by the Magnitsky Act,” the Naidenovs said.

As of March 2020, they were not partners, shareholders, managers and members of management bodies, they said.

“Moreover, we initiated, long before the measures under the Magnitsky law, actions for the accusal of Vassil Bozhkov of corruption and criminal acts, with a risk to our security and business.”

“Against the background of our unfair inclusion in this list, even more impressive is the lack of a number of names – active partners of the sanctioned persons at the moment, or in a period much closer to the present than our partnership,” the Naidenovs said.

They said that they had submitted documents to the Finance Ministry, National Revenue Agency, State Agency for National Security and the Cabinet office on June 15 and 16.

“Our inclusion in this list is an alarming signal about the rule of law in the country and gives very dangerous feedback to the rising civil society that a dignified defence of a civil position and action against corruption and lawlessness can turn to the detriment of people who are took such actions.

“Our struggle is not only about clearing our names and reputation – these are actions for upholding the principles of civil society in Bulgaria,” the Naidenovs said.

On June 16, Bulgarian media reported that Peevski, via his Intrust Ltd company, was seeking in the Supreme Administrative Court to overturn the caretaker cabinet’s June 4 decision to list connected persons and companies.

Bozhkov’s Bulgarian Summer political party has lodged a similar application in the Supreme Administrative Court.

(Photo via Efbet’s Facebook page)

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