Bulgarian Madoff slips about engineering financial pyramid, blames Delyan Peevski for everything

Inadvertently, he outs himself in an interview over the internet

Tsvetan Vassilev, the Bulgarian equivalent of the high-profile financial fraudster Bernard Madoff, has made an unorthodox move. From a main sponsor and conductor of the fake-news campaign his puppet journalists have been waging for years he switched to a spokesperson.

The strange situation came about after his own wife Antoaneta Vassileva reprimanded the author of the clearly commissioned film against lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. In a strong reaction, she criticised Nikolay Staykov from the Anti-Corruption Fund for not living up to their expectations. Just days later, the fraudster’s daughter, Radosveta Vassileva, slammed and disassociated herself from Boets, an NGO led by Georgi Georgiev, until recently a trusted acolyte and personal weapon of the fugitive banker. Then Radosveta castigated journalist Yavor Dachkov, who did a heavily produced interview with Vassilev some time ago. In a fit of rage, she took to Twitter and advised that Dachkov’s writings should be “read with a gas mask on” and wisely counseled, obviously after going through the chronology of events, “Think about how cheap words can be.”

After that series of character assassinations, which can only be interpreted as a vote of no confidence for the aforementioned journalists, the fugitive banker showed his paid clappers how things are done. In an almost hour-long Sofia-Belgrade connection over the internet, he spewed a tonne of lies, only occasionally interrupted by the supposed interviewer but actual passive listener Lyuba Kulezich, who prefaced the proceedings by saying that she was not being paid by Vassilev.

During his prolonged monologue, the fugitive banker tried to cover up his blunder from a few days ago. In a statement to the court, ghostwritten by his expensive lawyers being paid with money stolen from CorpBank, the fraudster essentially admitted that the lender had operated as a pyramid scheme, with him as the ringleader. His statement also revealed that under his guidance the so-called Firm extended unsecured loans to shell companies and that the bank’s collapse had been inevitable.

The Bulgarian Madoff’s admission comes too late. Three influential sources have already confirmed that CorpBank was a pyramid and Vassilev – its engineer. First Steve Hanke, applied economist at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore and founding father of the currency board in Bulgaria, said in August 2014, “The CorpBank case looks like a fraud of the investment pyramid variety.” Then the global consulting firm AlixPartners corroborated that, saying Tsvetan Vassilev had been issuing “paid pardons”. The final voice to join the choir was one of the most credible arbitration institutions in the world – the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), for which the fugitive banker is yet to come up with an undermining label. However, Vassilev and his lawyers know very well that he, who stole between BGN 5bn and BGN 6bn from depositors, is facing up to 20 years in jail. Hence their interest in making insinuations.

The statement outing Vassilev as a pyramid engineer is a monumental gaffe that will be very hard to overcome. To extricate himself from the awkward situation, Tsvetan Vassilev once again regurgitated fake news items that have been diligently disseminated by his pawns – Ognyan Stefanov and Iliyan Vassilev, aka Agent Academician and Agent Sasho (Dragan) of the former State Security, respectively. The latter even had the gall to say some time ago that CorpBank had not been a black hole and is now studiously sullying the reputation of Tsvetan Vassilev’s main enemy – lawmaker Delyan Peevski, even though it is a widely known fact that the MP never sat on the managing or supervisory boards of CorpBank and never owned shares in the bank. In the past, his family took out loans, which have since been repaid in full and with actual money – a fact that Vassilev and his puppets are trying to replace with fabrications. The truth, and something that the fugitive banker cannot get over, is that Peevski, together with his fellow MRF lawmakers Hamid Hamid and Yordan Tsonev introduced the bill that eventually stopped the secondary plundering of the lender’s assets in the aftermath of its bankruptcy. The law allowed the bankruptcy administrators to return BGN 500m worth of assets to the lender’s insolvency estate.

Vassilev’s claims, dutifully covered by the media battering rams of his new friend, oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, are false. But in their effort to “disprove” all the institutions and officials who say that, Vassilev and Prokopiev jointly spread the talking point that Peevski should have been indicted in the CorpBank case alongside the Bulgarian Madoff. During his confirmation hearing, then prosecutor-general candidate Ivan Geshev said, “Let me say that there is evidence that all the companies that can be linked to him (Peevski – editor’s note) have repaid their loans directly so there is no grounds for pressing charges against the lawmaker.” But that answer did not suit the cheerleaders of the behind-the-scenes clique. Unfortunately for them, Vassilev and company got lost in the torrent of lies. He claims that the actions of the Prosecutor’s Office regarding CorpBank were “a raid”, while Delyan Peevski supposedly had BGN 575m in loans – a fantasy that exists only in the mind of the Bulgarian Madoff. And occasionally in that of his trusted associate Vera Ahundova, aka Agent Ana Hranova of the State Security, who was planted by the banker in the NGO We, The Citizens. To curry favour with her master, Agent Ana Hranova boosted the total amount Peevski supposedly still owed the bank to BGN 700. Unlike Kulezich, Ahundova has never maintained that her loyalty to her boss comes free of charge.

The interview for the Eurocom cable TV, during which the banker talks while Lyuba Kulezich just signifies consent with a nod instead of offsetting the interlocutor with questions as professional journalists do, there was a second plot line, when the Bulgarian Madoff tried with a theatrical gesture to cut off his touched with grey Russian mustache. Tsvetan Vassilev has apparently developed amnesia and forgotten his close contacts with the Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. In a bid to get away he only said that he didn’t have a “contract with him.” It comes out from his words that Belgian Pierre Louvrier, who along with him tried to snatch the six “golden assets” financed by CorpBank right from under the state’s nose, appeared out of thin air to offer his services to Vassilev. Actually, when it comes to the secondary plundering of CorpBank, namely Tsvetan Vassilev and his Russian cronies, a team of special services’ agents and figureheads in Bulgaria, were those who planned this plundering. On their list were Dunarit, Sana Space, Health and Wellness as well as other companies bought with money of the defrauded depositors of CorpBank. After the bank’s collapse these enterprises played the role of a slush fund which Vassilev drained to pay fees to attorneys, lobbyists, journalists and bodyguards. After the attempt with the assistance of Louvrier failed Tsvetan Vassilev tried to recruit another Russian – Dmitry Kosarev who also proved to be the man of Malofeev. With him they agreed to share the booty 80:20 in favour of the Russian but under the condition that Kosarev will take on guarding Vassilev and his family in Belgrade.

During the years of CorpBank’s secondary looting Vassilev’s close ties with the Russian handlers, in the person of Konstantin Malofeev, a Kremlin-related oligarch, were of great help to the Bulgarian Madoff. Vassilev promised to Malofeev the largest share for support and protection. Along with KGB general Leonid Reshetnikov they were hatching a creeping coupe aimed at changing the geopolitical orientation of Bulgaria and turning it from a pro-Western country with Euro Atlantic profile into a Russian satellite. The main engine of Plan Bulgaria (as the project was codenamed) in this country was former MP of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, ex-publisher of the party’s newspaper Duma and chair of the Russophiles movement Nikolay Malinov, while for the implementation of the plot Tsvetan Vassilev had to transfer assets worth over BGN 1bn. Vassilev, however, not only failed to appreciate that but called Malinov а “small-time crook” and “Komsomol zealot”. This was announced already several weeks ago by Vassilev’s wife Anotoaneta when she scolded Nikolay Staikov of the Anti-Corruption Fund for exposing ties with Malinov. After Vassilev disengaged himself from all Russian contacts three times he also backtracked on his own participation in the South Stream project.

Actually the film produced by the Anti-Corruption Fund, which left Vassilev and his family so disappointed, was a real boomerang, because Staikov, the “prime contractor” has really evidenced the close Moscow ties of Tsvetan Vassilev, including his contacts with one of the Kremlin’s most trusted men, Alexander Babakov. The footage clearly showed that the Russian was among the visitors of the fugitive banker in Belgrade and on 22 November 2013 personally visited his office. It is believed that Babakov, who is the deputy of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, is also one of the people entrusted to personally supervise the development of the South Stream project.

And to further confirm the connection between Babakov and Vassilev the Anti-Corruption Fund demonstrated a document proving that CorpBank issued a € 2,5m warranty for the project to the name of Russian company Stroytransgas. Half-heartedly Tsvetan Vassilev tried to downplay all these facts and to impute all his Russian contacts to Peevski.

The fear that makes Vassilev give up on his Russian patrons has an indirect reason. This week, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) based in the Netherlands which investigates into the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 published new recordings of the conversations between the leaders of the self-proclaimеd Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). They present new inculpatory evidence concerning the officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSS) Igor Girkin-Strelkov who was officially indicted in June of the current year for the death of 298 passengers on board the Malaysian Boeing. At the time when the tragedy took place he was the DNR “defence minister” and commanded the separatists’ troops.

Girkin-Strelkov is seen as the man of Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev who is very close with his figurehead, the Belgian with Russian passport Pierre Louvrier, mentioned above. Actually what the fugitive baker is trying to cover up so vehemently is the fact that all money flows for funding the South Stream were supposed to pass through his pyramid, CorpBank. To further ensure for him and his family their lavish lifestyle. And to allow them to claim that they are “exiles” who, by the way, regret that they didn’t manage to triple their billions with new plunders. If only we all were in their shoes.

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