Fosterling of Bulgarian Madoff befriends Lozan Panov

Sonya Koltuklieva got close with him thanks to the audit of his earnings by the Anti-corruption Commission

Sonya Koltuklieva

PR expert Sonya Koltuklieva, ill-famed for the fact that she was paid cash by the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, has retrained and became an expert in civil forfeiture. In recent days, she has shown enviable alertness on the issue, while her links on Facebook betray her favourable regard for Lozan Panov, president of the Supreme Court of Cassation who is now trying to block the work of the so-called Anti-Corruption and Illegal Assets Forfeiture Commission (ACCIAF) via an interpretative ruling.

This happened after it became clear that he, in turn, was investigated by this very commission for tax evasion.

As a judge Panov had to condemn the vicious practice that inflicted damages to the state treasury but instead he preferred to deliver a blow to ACCIAF approving a decision that nearly blocked the Commission’s activity. The interpretative decision was nothing else but an attempt to defend the illegally acquired property of the oligarchs. The Parliament, however, stopped this thanks to urgent amendments to the anti-corruption act which threw off the center the media of the behind-the-scenes clique in Bulgaria and their mentors.

Koltuklieva also got hold of this moment to get closer to the president of the Supreme Court of Cassation, who is favoured by the Capital circle. So far, the touch points between Koltuklieva and Panov are only in the sphere of evaded taxes. Unlike the PR expert, however, the judge is not among fosterlings of Tsvetan Vassilev, although the latter would have benefited from blocking the lawsuit about his illegally acquired property.

In 2017, it transpired that Koltuklieva also reaped benefit from CorpBank drained by Tsvetan Vassilev. She was among his ‘servitorial staff’ of journalists which also included chief of Frognews Ognyan Stefanov (State Security agent Academician) and blogger Miroslav Ivanov, as well as Lyuba Kulezich, to whom the banker commissioned interviews. According to the Prosecitor’s office, over the span of 2010-2011 Koltuklieva received BGN 90,000 from Tsvetan Vassilev but failed to declare the sum before the National Revenue Agency and did not pay taxes on the sum received.

According to Biser Lazov, who is the main witness for the state prosecution in the mega-case about the draining of the bank, who in first person told how the CorpBank scheme worked, the banker personally ordered him to pay this sum to Koltuklieva. He specified that it was a routine practice and the money was taken from the front vault of the bank that went bankrupt in 2014. Every morning, Vassilev ordered to his subordinates to pay certain sums to someone and specified whether the sums had to be paid in cash or otherwise. As far as Koltuklieva is concerned, one morning Vassilev called Lazov and told him that a certain woman by name of Koltuklieva would call and within several months he had to pay to her a sum that Vassilev himself ordered, Lazov said. The remunerations for the PR expert were taken from the vault on Debar Street where the office of Vassilev was located as well as the office of investment intermediary Finna.C, which became notorious in connection with the ‘robbery of the century’, i.e. CorpBank draining. Other 200 companies were also registered on this address and all of them were connected with Vassilev. What they all share in common is the fact that were all involved in economic activity which CorpBank could not carry out. In other words, these companies implemented the alternative projects of Tsvetan Vassilev.

That morning, Lazov met Koltuklieva, as it was agreed that there should have been a preliminary contract, but such contract had not been signed. Supposedly the contract had to specify that the money was paid for PR services rendered. However, before the court Lazov explained that he was not authorised to ask what he money was paid for but only to follow Vassilev’s orders and to report to him the same evening. He used to take the money from the vault at Debar Street and leave a note, according to which he was accountable for it till the moment when he met Koltuklieva. In his words, Koltuklieva and the Prosecutor’s office signed the document which Lazov put back into the vault and henceforth he was no longer accountable for the money.

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