Peevski Act has restored over BGN 1bn to CorpBank

Yordan Tsonev: We have forestalled the secondary plunder of the bank

A little over a year after the enforcement of the so-called Peevski Act that has staved off the secondary looting of CorpBank which collapsed by the fault of fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev more than BGN 1bn was restored to the lender. That transpired from the statement of the bank’s bankruptcy administrators before the media.

The BGN 1bn collected after the CorpBank’s bankruptcy is the result of bankruptcy administration’s efforts towards restocking the insolvency estate through collecting loan repayments, redemption of the assets and declaring invalid the set-offs, the statement reads. It is underscored that the amendments to the Bank Insolvency Act adopted by the parliament in 2018 and promulgated on 13 March 2018 have contributed to it considerably. The amendments were moved by MPs of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) Delyan Peevski, Yordan Tsonev and Hamid Hamid.

“In fact, approaching the issue in this off-standard legal way we sought a solution to such cases as the attempts at secondary plundering of CorpBank and holding accountable those who were involved in its primary plundering. To avoid ambiguity, we are talking about Tsvetan Vassilev and his associates, said MRF deputy floor leader referring to the fact that in-payments to the accounts of the collapsed CorpBank exceeded BGN 1bn by the end of 2019. “I thank the bankruptcy administrators for their efficient work, they tried first of all to collect an ample sum for the insolvency mass. I also thank them for admitting that we have given them a free hand in dealing with the problem,” Tsonev stressed. “I cannot stop wondering how almost six years after the “heist of the century” some people are still claiming that the bank held big assets. None of the assets which Vassilev acquired with the bank’s money was the bank’s property, they were not even pledged to the bank but were purchased with the bank’s money laundered in several companies. Only some cheap stocks of the companies that don’t cost a penny were pledged. This made us think how to make the mechanism to be used by the bankruptcy administrators to enable them to find those assets, to arrest them, sell them and add them to the insolvency estate,” gave his reason the MRF lawmaker. He further explained that the introduced amendments to the Bank Insolvency Act have been strongly criticised.

“It is an undisputable that we have been the subject of criticism but it also goes without saying that such a massive plunder of bank depositors is unprecedented in the modern history of Bulgaria. We had to oppose the play of the fugitive banker with our own play that would enable us to find the “booty” and restore at least part of it. I believe that the result is not bad and prompts that we were on the right track,” Tsonev said. He also explained the rationale behind his and his colleagues’ decision to move the amendments.

“They were mainly based on the schemes which he used in order to get hold of these resources after the CorpBank’s bankruptcy. Using other companies or through increasing the capital of other companies. The key problem lied not in purchasing the assets with the depositors’ money under false pretense that this is a loan provided to some company. The problem is that when these assets are not pledged to the bank but instead are laundered in two or three companies and are pledged instead of assets the stocks belong to those companies. And actually the very companies which hold the assets, such as plants, enterprises or other economic subjects, namely the assets were not under bankruptcy administrators’ supervision but under the supervision of commercial companies which the bankruptcy administrators could hardly reach,” Yordan Tsonev pointed out. “Having in mind that the capital of some of them was immediately increased by virtue of the decision of managing boards of the companies controlled by Vassilev it has proved impossible to restore these companies to the bank. Our legislative mechanisms were aimed at preventing it,” Tsonev explained.

Meanwhile the case of CorpBank’s bankruptcy is still being examined by the Specialised Criminal Court. The key defendant is ex-banker Tsvetan Vassilev who fled to Serbia and other 17 people who are to be held accountable for syphoning off over BGN 2,5bn from the lender. The leadoff witness Biser Lazov is still being questioned by the defendants’ lawyers. Lazov used to be the chief accountant of the so-called Firm – an aggregate of companies controlled by Vassilev. CorpBank was syphoned off through providing loans to those companies as the money flows were channeled by Vassilev. For the first time since the election of Ivan Geshev to the post of Prosecutor General he took part in a court hearing along with two other members of the prosecutors’ team.

Before the start of the hearing Geshev commented on the process before journalists, “The judicial inquiry has been started, evidence is being collected and we will work hard together with our colleagues in order to defend the indictment charge. Probably the Serbian state does not want to fulfill its international commitments. The question “why” should be asked to the Serbian state. The court will decide whether to allow that Tsvetan Vassilev is questioned via videoconference as he himself insists. I will voice my opinion as soon as some concrete request is made and the prosecution takes its stand on the issue.”

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