Bistra from Banker weekly fights Tsvetan Vassilev's battle against the 'Peevski amendment'

Another media outlet sponsored by the Bulgarian Madoff follows in the footsteps of oligarch Ivo Prokopiev's publications and joins the smear campaign

Tsvetan Vassilev

Bistra Georgieva, head of the weekly publication Banker, has emerged from her apparent slumber and is now leading the charge in the smear campaign of fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, aka the Bulgarian Madoff, against the so-called “Peevski amendment” to the Bank Insolvency Act.

An extensive article published in the weekly parrots all talking points of the attorneys representing the criminal hiding from the Bulgarian judicial system in Belgrade. To make the text more overwhelmingly long, Banker went through all the unfounded theses, one by one, essentially assuming the role of a second press office of the financial fraudster and serving exclusively his bid to cover up his crimes. The weekly, which otherwise purports to be a reputable source of information, stoops to the level of the tabloid website Frognews, which is the primary press office of the fugitive banker. Bistra Georgieva's publication has been defending the oligarch Tsvetan Vassilev for years, betraying how dependent it is on funding from him. Beyond the regurgitation of all arguments fed to the weekly by the fugitive banker's attorneys, however, Banker cannot find solid footing for carrying out its task - to write an article highlighting the righteousness of the Bulgarian Madoff's legal team, part of which is Lazar Karadaliev, currently charged with money laundering. According to investigators on Karadaliev's case, he and two colleagues of his were arrested under suspicions of involvement in a money laundering group that operated since 2014. Companies registered on the name of figureheads were employed in the scheme. The same trick was used for all those loans extended by the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, who likely was advised at the time by his attorneys on how to make the paperwork conceal his crime. Karadaliev is believed to be the leader of the group.

Another staunch defender of the oligarchy is attorney Daniela Dokovska, whose law firm protects the interests of a number of indicted oligarchs who have found themselves in the same boat as Tsvetan Vassilev.

Let us remind that a week ago the Supreme Bar Council (SBC), which has ties to the behind-the-scenes circles and serves the interests of the oligarchy, challenged the amendments to the Bank Insolvency Act that were initiated back in 2015 and give legal recourse to CorpBank's bankruptcy administrators to return to its insolvency estate property acquired with the lender's money. The SBC requested that the constitutionality of the entire package of amendments commonly known as “the 2018 Peevski amendment for CorpBank” be reviewed.  

A separate attack waged by the SBC concerns the latest amendments to the Gambling Act, which were adopted at the beginning of the year and brought the business of organising a lottery under a state monopoly. The legislative changes were introduced by Valeri Simeonov, leader of the political party National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, amid ongoing investigations into the gambling boss Vasil Bozhkov in January and February of this year.

The 2018 package of legislative changes proposed by Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) lawmakers Delyan Peevski, Yordan Tsonev and Hamid Hamid made it possible for over BGN 1.25bn to be returned to CorpBank, the lender that Tsvetan Vassilev syphoned off. But that fact is nowhere to be found in the article of the second press office of the Bulgarian Madoff, who is understandably displeased by his scheme getting thwarted. For the benefit of Banker's Bistra, let us remind the content of a CorpBank statement, which reveals that the lender's revenues were recently boosted by €125m. After years of legal battles waged in Bulgaria and the UK, a sum of nearly €125m was transferred on 7 May 2020 to an account of CorpBank AD (currently in an administration procedure) - the amount with which in 2012 the bank funded the acquisition of a controlling stake in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company.

It is interesting to note that the chief editor of Banker reacted much later than the publications of oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, who joined forces with the fugitive banker and since then the two have launched coordinated attacks through their own media channels.

“The law was designed to facilitate the return of what the former majority owner of the bank, Tsvetan Vassilev, had stolen. Through a series of machinations and illegal schemes, he transferred ownership of assets to companies thanks to a chain of other businesses. After analysing those moves, we drafted the new law so that bankruptcy administrators would have legal recourse to return to the insolvency estate everything that had been acquired with CorpBank depositors' money. The results were more than good, they frankly exceeded our expectations,” Yordan Tsonev, one of the proponents of the bill that stopped the secondary plundering of CorpBank, told Telegraph Media.

“Moreover, the bankruptcy administrators have said that it untied their hands in terms of replenishing the insolvency estate. The latest example is the money that came in from the sale of the telecommunications operator - €125m. It is a serious sum of money that would have been impossible to restore without that piece of legislation. As for the lawyers who challenged the law before the Constitutional Court, they have a vested interest in preventing the insolvency estate from being replenished as they work not for the Bulgarian Deposit Insurance Fund, i.e. the state, but for those who do not want to see the money being returned to the state. So the lawyers' actions should not surprise us, they are protecting their own interests,” Tsonev was adamant.

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