Prokopiev puts his hand on BGN 700m in BDB funding through strawman

Pins the appointment on Delyan Peevski through his fake news machine to cover his tracks

Ivan Kostov (L) and Ivo Prokopiev

The indicted leader of the behind-the-scenes clique in Bulgaria, Ivo Prokopiev, is trying to sink his claws into BGN 700m in public funding set aside to help citizens and businesses hit by the coronavirus-induced crisis. While society and the institutions are devoting all their energy and attention to fighting the new coronavirus, the oligarch, who is chin-deep in debt, is on the verge of putting one of his loyalists on the management of the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB).

The move would give him access to another public feeding rack for his companies. Prokopiev’s goal is to take over the BDB from within in order to put a hand on the amount with which the lender’s capital was increased. Some BGN 500m of the money is supposed to go to assisting small and medium-sized enterprises. The remaining BGN 200m are earmarked for interest-free loans to be extended as relief to Bulgarian citizens through commercial banks. But now the millions are about to go to Prokopiev and his behind-the-scenes cronies, as revealed by a decision of the BDB Supervisory Board filed with the Commercial Register.  

The decision puts Panayot Filipov, hitherto director of the Bulgarian Export Insurance Agency, on the new BDB management. Filipov, 46, is among the biggest loyalists of the Capital circle. To cover his tracks, Ivo Prokopiev brazenly tried to draw attention away from himself by pinning the move on none other than his sworn enemy – lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. For years, Peevski has been a thorn in the side of the behind-the-scenes clique because of his efforts to stop the oligarchs’ shady deals through legislative initiatives and because of his media outlets’ insistence on exposing the crimes of the “businessmen” who stole BGN 30bn from taxpayers through the mass privatisation process alone. As a result, he became the target of a concerted smear campaign conducted by those same oligarchs’ paid puppets and media outlets, pinning their bosses’ sins on him regularly and without the benefit of facts by using pamphlets riddled with lies. And so the website Mediapool, a satellite of the Capital circle owned by former PM Ivan Kostov’s one-time spokesperson Stoyana Georgieva, tried to argue on Thursday that Filipov is close to Delyan Peevski by employing an old talking point that has been disproven thousands of times – about a non-existent link between the lawmaker and Vodstroy98. A simple search in the Commercial Register, which is public domain, clearly shows the lie in this statement. The same register that Capital cites in its fabrication. But you will not see this in any of the website’s articles.

What is the truth, then? Tied to the close circle of Ivo Prkopiev, Filipov is among the protégés of Ivan Kostov’s favourite restaurant owner, Slavcho Hristov. Having joined the financial circles in the country during the murky 1990s period rife with bank collapses, Filipov rose to prominence when in 2000 Hristov, with the power of Kostov behind him, stood at the helm of the Bulgarian-Russian Investment Bank, later renamed to CIBank. During his stint with the lender, Filipov first headed the Branches Network department and then a newly opened CIBank branch in Sofia specialising in servicing VIP clients and offering safety deposit boxes.

The proposal for the Capital loyalist to sit on the BDB board revealed the true goal of the attack that Ivo Prokopiev and his affiliated media outlets mounted to topple the bank’s now previous management. A week ago, Stoyan Mavrodiev, BDB’s chief executive officer, and the rest of the board members were fired after Prokopiev’s media outlets reported that BDB had extended a BGN 75m loan to a collection agency. Capital, Dnevnik, Mediapool and the rest of the websites in the Capital circle blew the case out of proportion just when the bank’s capital was increased, and even though it later turned out that the deal had been approved almost half a year ago, Mavrodiev was ousted. Now we know that this was how Prokopiev cleared a path for himself to capture the lender from within and gain access to fresh public money for his debt-riddled companies. It is a public secret among banking circles that years ago Prokopiev had a BDB loan but was later cut off from the lender. As a result, the media outlets in the Capital group launched a protracted and fierce campaign against the BDB. The Telegraph Media publications will continue to expose this circumstance as well as Prokopiev’s shameless attempt to grab a hold of yet another public feeding rack.

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