Prokopiev turns on lie machine

The oligarch Ivo Prokopiev has put his media machine for lies to work in a bid to protect his property from being distrained by the Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture (CIAF). In the early morning of 14 November his publications Dnevnik and Capital, as well as their like-minded website Mediapool, published a hysterical open letter penned by the publishers of the Economedia media group. It says that the head of CIAF Plamen Georgiev is being “strongly pressured by the prosecutor general” and by our publisher MP Delyan Peevski to put Prokopiev’s property under distraint.

The oligarch Ivo Prokopiev has put his media machine for lies to work in a bid to protect his property from being distrained by the Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture (CIAF). In the early morning of 14 November his publications Dnevnik and Capital, as well as their like-minded website Mediapool, published a hysterical open letter penned by the publishers of the Economedia media group. It says that the head of CIAF Plamen Georgiev is being “strongly pressured by the prosecutor general” and by our publisher MP Delyan Peevski to put Prokopiev’s property under distraint.

Putting aside the absurdity of the allegations laid out in it, the letter is essentially an attempt at publicly pressuring state investigative authorities using media manipulations. This is an old trick of Prokopiev, who utilises his media outlets as megaphones every time it appears that the day of reckoning for his shady deals is nearing. For example, in an attempt to create a smokescreen and save himself from the clutches of the justice system, Prokopiev announced shortly before last Christmas that he was soon going to be cited as a defendant in the now famous EVN case. He had been presented with a notice to appear in the police station and declared that the case was the result of political pressure in order to mitigate the public hit to his image.

The Economedia letter shows that through illegal means Prokopiev and his people obtained the information that CIAF was about to distrain assets owned by Ivo and Galya Prokopiev, including assets of the Economedia company, in which he has a majority stake. Under Bulgarian law, information pertaining to the ongoing CIAF proceedings and the Commission’s agenda are classified. Moreover, Prokopiev’s media outlets purposefully overlook two other facts in the articles they produce in support of their owner. First, given the legal requirements, a request for the distraint of Prokopiev’s assets indicates that the Commission’s officers have found proof for over BGN 150,000 in illegally obtained funds. Second, the actual decision to impose security measures is made by the court.

Cause for the probe is the EVN case, in which Ivo Prokopiev is a defendant along with former ministers Simeon Djankov and Traycho Traykov, among others. Not long ago, the case was returned to the Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation. Under Bulgarian law, CIAF has maximum one year for its probe, a period that may be extended by six months. In all likelihood, the motion for distraint that CIAF is expected to file in court will concern assets of Economedia, in which Prokopiev owns a majority stake.

The Commission was succinct in its comment, saying that it was adhering to the law.

“I do not respond to statements made by indicted individuals or to articles published in their media outlets,” said Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, asked about the open letter released by Economedia earlier that day.

Meanwhile, it emerged that in a desperate attempt to protect his illegally acquired wealth, Prokopiev has embroiled the head of the Supreme Court of Cassation Lozan Panov in his machinations. As it turns out, he tried to stave off the court case against the oligarch through an interpretive rule. The request for it was made in December 2016 when it first became clear that Prokopiev would be indicted for the EVN affair and concerns the issue of whether terminated criminal proceedings should automatically lead to the dismissal of a seizure of property case. After biding his time for nearly a year, Panov finally referred the matter to “selected” legal experts serving the behind-the-scenes clique. Obviously the point of the whole charade was to stonewall any future action to seize property of Prokopiev.

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