Peevski Act challenged by lawyers of shadowy clique

Indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev provides media platform for the attack

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

The second attack waged by the lawyers who serve the interests of the behind-the-scenes clique 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.

If the legal texts now being challenged by the SBC are declared anti-constitutional, it could have serious repercussions with an effect that is hard to grasp at the moment, considering the latest rulings by the Constitutional Court in which the court altered its practice as to how its decisions concerning open cases and ongoing legal relations are enforced. There are still a lot of unresolved disputes related to CorpBank, and their outcome may well be swung one way or another by the upcoming ruling of the Constitutional Court. As for the gambling business, a potential overturn of the amendment could open the door for private operators to once again apply for licence to start such operations.

The package of legislative changes proposed in 2018 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. This was revealed in a statement released by the bank, which also said 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 (BTK).

It is no coincidence that the SBC launched its attack through the media outlets of oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, whose interests align with those of the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev and the gambling boss Vasil Bozhkov, as well as with those of their pawns - natural gas tycoon Sasho Donchev and pharmaceutical boss Ognyan Donev. With the Prosecutor's Office breathing down their necks, the indicted and charged oligarchs Tsvetan Vassilev, Vasil Bozhkov and Ivo Prokopiev have joined forces to undermine the government.

Yordan Tsonev: The law had a more than positive effect

“The act 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 property 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.

“As for the fact that Capital is the media outlet providing platform for the campaign against the law, it has always taken the interests of Tsvetan Vassilev to heart. Additionally, I would like to clarify that by “Capital” I mean the owner, not the journalists working there. If we are being truthful, many of them are great professionals, but it is clear that they do not have the freedom (to do their job properly) and we have evidence of this. You may remember the emails leaked some years ago in which Prokopiev was giving talking points as to what they should write, who they should attack, etc. If we are to be truthful, it should be noted that this same group of people, led by the owner of Capital and his affiliated organisations from the Soros circle, are doubly at fault for Bulgaria's 111th spot on the World Press Freedom Index. On the one hand, they slander Bulgaria through one of their ally organisations - Reporters Without Borders. On the other hand, they deny their own media outlets freedom. Thank God that no media freedom ranking includes their outlets because otherwise Bulgaria would sink to the 211th spot. I am not surprised that Capital is once again on the side of Tsvetan Vassilev,” Tsonev, who is vice-president of the parliamentary group of MRF, said.

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