Bulgarian Madoff exposes his Russian ties

The financial scammer hiding in Belgrade is instructing his people in Bulgaria via notes

Tsvetan Vassilev

The financial scammer hiding in Serbia is issuing instructions to his people in Bulgaria with hand-written notes delivered by messenger. Telegraph came into possession of some of the correspondence and published it on 18 June. A package sent anonymously to the newspaper’s editorial office contained a letter and several hand-written notes.

The financial scammer hiding in Serbia is issuing instructions to his people in Bulgaria with hand-written notes delivered by messenger. Telegraph came into possession of some of the correspondence and published it on 18 June.

A package sent anonymously to the newspaper’s editorial office contained a letter and several hand-written notes. According to the letter, the notes detail instructions from Tsvetan Vassilev (it claims that the handwriting is assuredly his) and were composed in Belgrade and sent to some unspecified recipients in Bulgaria. The letter also reveals the identity of the people whose names or initials are mentioned in the notes.

The newspaper’s initial investigation into the matter ascertained that the hand-written instructions in the notes correspond with actual and publicly known facts or events that transpired in the country between 2015 and 2017. This very circumstance, despite the sender being anonymous, strengthens the notes’ credibility. We are publishing them without any editing, as they were received.

One of the notes contains a hand-written text by Tsvetan Vassilev that orders for documents related to Glass Industry, majority owner in the glass factory in Paracin, to be compiled and for the preparation of some kind of declaration by Ilia Terziev, a shareholder in Glass Industry and a figurehead of the fugitive banker. In conclusion, Vassilev orders the recipient of the instructions: “Do not make any moves until: you have gathered every item under 1a and 1b (subsections in the note’s instructions – author’s note) and you have gotten explicit confirmation from me.” It gets even more interesting in section 2 of the instructions, where Vassilev writes: “By tomorrow (I have a meeting with K.M. around noon) – I should be informed of any further developments in Moscow.” According to the anonymous sender’s letter accompanying the notes, the initials K.M. stand for Konstantin Malofeev. The author of the letter claims that Vassilev and Malofeev met several times in Belgrade and that Vassilev has serious Russian ties protecting him.

The next note is extremely interesting, as it corresponds, as it turned out, with real events surrounding the Paracin glass factory and an attempt made by people affiliated with Vassilev to file a suit against the factory to collect on a claim acquired by a series of offshore companies through backdated cessions.

The origin of the claim can be traced back to the failed CorpBank and represents bank loans extended to Glass Industry, the money from which was later loaned to the Serbian factory. The right to this debt held by Glass Industry was transferred in 2015, via cession agreements and without real payment, to the abovementioned offshore companies – first to Rippers Limited, then to Stagioni Limited and finally to Vexillum Balkan and ultimately filed as a claim against the Serbian factory in a launched bankruptcy proceeding. And while it is not clear whether the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the case, articles in the Serbian media indicate that a probe was launched a year ago. Here is what Vassilev instructs on the topic, and it proves that the agreements were backdated – “Rippers (offshore) must notify Corpinvest (before December 2015) that it is terminating the agreement for the transfer of the factory’s debt. Ivan Dzhidzhev needs to sign this, as the then director.” This is obviously an instruction for backdating a legal action – to notify Corpinvest but to date the notification before December 2015 and have it be signed by the director who managed the company at the time (which suggests that at the time the instruction was being written the director had been ousted).  

What is more important is that these instructions perfectly fit the events that followed and that were apparently meant to carry those out. The cession agreement between Rippers and Corpinvest must have been indeed dissolved (likely with the signature of the then-former director Ivan Dzhidzhev) with a backdated statement because after Rippers recovered the right to the debt the offshore company transferred it to Stagioni Limited, which allowed Vassilev to put his scheme for the engineered bankruptcy of the Paracin factory into motion. All of this can be investigated by the relevant authorities and in such a case it will be confirmed. But even in the absence of such a probe, relying only on the facts that are publicly known, we can safely assume that Vassilev’s instructions were carried out.

This conclusion is supported by the next note. Here is what Vassilev instructs in it: “Call Dzhidzhev and backdate the move of the cession back from Corpinvest to Ripper (you know which one).” The topic is the same and Vassilev’s instruction is even clearer – to backdate a document. Moving the cession from Corpinvest to the benefit of the offshore company Ripper was something Vassilev needed in order to transfer the same debt holding to other offshore companies that would later claim it against the Serbian factory and it had to be backdated. These are all events that actually transpired. But it is unclear to whom this instruction was addressed. This is only known to Ivan Dzhidzhev and Ilia Terziev. It is likely someone in position to give orders to people like Dzhidzhev and Terziev on behalf of Vassilev. It could be one of Vassilev’s lawyers like Martin Apostolov or Lazar Karadaliev or it could be an individual even closer to Vassilev. We can only speculate.             

The next note with the instructions from the banker hiding out in Belgrade is related to the acquisition of Vivacom by Spas Russev in 2016. The acquisition was effected after a public auction of one of the companies in the telecom’s property network held in Luxemburg. Vassilev wanted to prevent the sale, as he himself owned 43% of Vivacom assets via SHCO 79 registered in Luxemburg, no matter that the acquisition of the telecom was also effected wholly with the CorpBank money.

Now, what do the instructions of Vassilev say?  “Vivacom should negotiate only scuttling the Russev’s deal + financing. I have a very serious partner in Russia who, if need be, will provide financing and lobbying. Now it is not the right time to talk with K.M. Your aim is to stop Spas and refinance the bank...”

We have to once again explain that the initials K.M. stand for Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev who was also interested in buying Vivacom. At fisrt, via a pseudo-investor, Belgian holder of a Russian passport Pierre Louvrier and then (should he fail) through another Russian, Dmitry Kosarev. Malofeev apparently was in conflict with the Russian Foreign Trade Bank (FTB) that was telecom’s creditor and now, together with Spas Russev, a stockholder of the company.      

Vassilev further says, “… acquisition of Crusher and getting hold of the company. You will settle the situation with K.M. and they will revoke claims to the bank…” The offshore company Crusher at that time was an indirect owner of 33% in Vivacom, holding these shares for the Foreign Trade Bank of Russia, while Vassilev had the right to buy out this share via a Bulgarian shell company Technological Centre – Institute of Microelectronics. The events that followed are well known. The abovementioned share was transferred by executive director Teodora Taneva in favour of CorpBank, and owing to that the other members of the directors’ board of the Technological Centre – Institute of Microelectronics, who are Vassilev’s confidants, filed a claim against Taneva demanding that the share be transferred in favour of the next offshore company.  

It all fit just perfectly, as now it is clear who and how controlled the whole process. Yet, the figure of Vassilev’s “serious Russian partner” is still obscure because Vassilev himself has never mentioned either his full name or initials. Just as obscure is the addressee of the instructions. However, thanks to the probable acquaintance of the addressee with Konstantin Malofeev one can assume that this person is Nikolay Malinov, former publisher of Communist party newspaper Duma and chair of the Russophile club in Bulgaria. This same Malinov in 2015 made an attempt to buy ownership and control over TV channels TB7 and News 7, i.e. the two (not three) of them – Vassilev, Malofeev and Malinov are apparently on friendly terms. The anonymous writer of the notes will prove right – Vassilev has very strong ties in Russia and his people protect him.

The next note is transcribed in Serb letters but in Bulgarian language. It runs as follows, “Today Reshetnikov is in Bulgaria, he has a meeting with the man’s friends… If you are really interested, the man will help you establish contacts and connections in Russia.” In an anonymous letter enclosed with the notes it is said that this text, too, is written by Vassilev, as he learnt to write in Serb letters.

Evidently, Vassilev has good command of Serbian after his four-year stay in Belgrade. It remains unclear, though who is the mysterious man and what contacts and connections in Russia he can ensure, yet it is clear that Vassilev knows these Russians well and can arrange meetings with them for those who show interest. So, who would now believe that he had no connections with the Kremlin and was in fact “a victim” of Moscow?  

Now, what has turned out in reality? While we in Bulgaria exchange accusations and stage court trials over the CorpBank bankruptcy, Tsvetan Vassilev from Serbia continues to rule the roost and quietly and slyly manages the assets bought with the money of the drained bank. The fugitive banker sends out instructions to his people in Bulgaria who execute them and even make ante-date statements, provided they are to the benefit of Vassilev.

All this reminds of a film, only it is not a Hollywood production, but a native one, with a Bulgarian director, screenwriter and starring actor, namely a Bulgarian Madoff, ex-banker who has spent at ease BGN 3,5b of the depositors’ money on his personal projects and businesses, drained and made bankrupt the fourth biggest bank in Bulgaria. His name is Tsvetan Vassilev, financial fraudster.

Clap your hands! Draw the curtain! The film may start.    

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