Oligarchy rallies against Peevski Act

Lozan Panov is pushing CorpBank into the hands of Tsvetan Vassilev

Delyan Peevski

Lozan Panov, the infamous president of the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC), has found yet another loophole to exploit in service of his mentors – the indicted oligarchs. This time, the “legal service” is being performed for the benefit of the fugitive banker hiding in Belgrade Tsvetan Vassilev, who is being tried in Bulgaria in absentia for the embezzlement and collapse of CorpBank.

The move in question is the latest interpretive case launched by the SCC – in this particular one the magistrates are considering the amendments to the latest Bank Insolvency Act, introduced to parliament by lawmakers Delyan Peevski, Hamid Hamid and Yordan Tsonev. The legislative changes enable the bank’s bankruptcy administrators to legally challenge disadvantageous cessions and set-offs as well as deals that cause damages to the insolvency estate. Through these types of maneuvers, the fugitive banker and his cohort attempted to pull off a secondary plundering of CorpBank, trying to steal the lucrative assets bought with the lender’s depositors’ money under the nose of the state.

To help Vassilev, Panov launched an interpretive case looking into whether when such deals are challenged the bank itself should be established as a party to the case, in addition to the creditor who did the set-off and the lender’s bankruptcy administrators.

Such an approach would be pretty alternative, given that the administrators’ job is to protect the interests of the lender and its depositors. Moreover, they should repay the bank’s creditors, the largest one of which is currently the state in the form of the Bulgarian Deposit Insurance Fund. At the same time, Tsvetan Vassilev is still the majority shareholder of CorpBank on paper. So, theoretically, it is possible to have a situation where the bank is represented in court by an attorney chosen by the very person responsible for its embezzlement.

The decision to start an interpretive case is not the first attempt of the behind-the-scenes political and economic circles to disable the Peevski Amendment that stops the secondary plundering of the bank, whose failure was engineered by the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev. Earlier, the law was challenged before the Constitutional court, with a decision still pending. In September 2018, it emerged that in the first six months following its entry into force, the Peevski Act may return to the lender a total of BGN 240m in assets.

This sum is likely to be returned to the bank, as it represents the estimated value of the real assets distrained in its favour. The entire property package was bought with money embezzled from the bank through the debt-financing scheme for shell companies operated by Tsvetan Vassilev, aka the Bulgarian Madoff for over a decade. The properties, companies and other assets, with an estimated value of nearly a quarter of a billion levs, will go on public sales, the CorpBank press office informed. This means it is possible that the revenue for the lender may be even bigger, provided that there is considerable demand for the auctioned assets.

The changes to the Bank Insolvency Act were introduced to parliament by the lawmakers Delyan Peevski, Yordan Tsonev and Hamid Hamid from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The amendments are intended to shed light on the secondary plundering of the assets of CorpBank, which was embezzled by the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, and allow for measures to be taken to return those assets to the collapsed lender’s insolvency estate. The new legislative texts provide for making null all fictitious set-offs, cessions and transfers that do not involve real and adequate payment and through which the assets of CorpBank are being plundered with, strictly speaking, legal means.

Because of his legislative initiatives and the investigations conducted by the Telegraph Media outlets, published by Peevski, the lawmaker is a major target of attacks by the behind-the-scenes circles in Bulgaria. Their goal is to defame the MP as much as possible in order to discredit his revelations against the oligarchic clique.

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