Bulgaria probes claim bank is laundering money for Russian oligarchs

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office said on April 25 that it had instructed the State Agency for National Security (SANS) to investigate an allegation by an MP that a bank in Bulgaria was laundering money for Russian oligarchs.

The statement said that SANS had been told to question the MP, Delyan Dobrev of GERB-UDF, about his allegation.

By law, the investigation must be completed within three months, after which the supervising prosecutor will assess whether there is sufficient evidence to initiate pre-trial proceedings.

On April 23, Dobrev told Nova Televizia in an interview that Bulgaria was violating European Union sanctions imposed on Russia, with a bank in Bulgaria transferring money to Russian oligarchs in Europe.

According to Dobrev, the bank – which he did not name – is not necessarily owned by Bulgarian legal entities, but operates in Bulgaria and transferred the amounts to Hungary.

“Through this particular bank, large dubious money transfers to another country in Europe – to Hungary, which are believed to be connected to Russian oligarchs and interests,” Dobrev said.

“Therefore, it is very important that the bill on money laundering be passed as quickly as possible. And this bank will not be able to do such transactions. If this is true, where are the financial intelligence of the SANS and where is the Bulgarian National Bank?” he said.

“Our source is reliable, so we believe that this is true,” Dobrev said, saying that the information came from a “partner service”.

He said that it was not known how long the current National Assembly would last, so on April 26, GERB-UDF would raise the topic of the bill, which Dobrev said “could be approved within two to three weeks”.

Bulgarian National Bank responded to Dobrev’s allegation by saying that no such case had been referred to it, and by law, anti-money laundering measures are the responsibility of SANS.

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