Tsvetan Vassilev instructs agent Academician via handy phone equipped with flashlight

Biser Lazov, lead witness in the CorpBank case, has revealed that the fugitive banker bought Ognyan Stefanov a device that prevented tapping

Tsvetan Vassilev

Ognyan Stefanov, aka agent Academician of the former State Security, and attorney Lazar Karadaliev, who is on trial for money laundering, received instructions from Tsvetan Vassilev, who fled to Serbia after engineering the collapse of CorpBank, via mobile phone. This was revealed by Biser Lazov, the lead witness in the case stemming from the embezzlement of billions from the lender by the fugitive banker, during a hearing in the Specialised Criminal Court.

“He bought them cheap phones, the ones with flashlight (as their biggest extra) so they can talk. They were provided with test SIM cards issued by Vivacom because the numbers of those cards are not officially registered and can be used without fear of tapping,” Lazov explained. He added that the same types of cards were given to him and several other CorpBank employees after the events of 17 June 2014 so that they can keep in touch with Vassilev.

On 10 June that same year, the Bulgarian Madoff first fled to Greece and then to Austria. Agent Academician and Karadaliev took more than BGN 1.2m in the days leading up to the official collapse of CopBank (10 June 2014), to save the fugitive banker from prosecution. Vassilev would call them on the “flashlight” phones to instruct them on how to cook the books to cover up the cash missing from CorpBank’s volt. As of 17June 2014, the volt was BGN 206m short on various currencies and fixing the missing sum was the main topic of their conversations between 17 and 20 June.

“He treated his employees like personal servants and they obeyed. Servile low- and midlevel employees of CorpBank operated with sums that exceeded the budget of any Bulgarian municipality,” Lazov revealed.

At 11.45 a.m. on 20 June, Lazov was in the office of Orlin Rusev, one of the bank directors. They talked to Vassilev several times. The fugitive banker insisted that something be done so as to ensure that the missing sum is not detected in the forthcoming inventory of the volt. Borislava Treneva, deputy chief accountant of the lender at the time, was present for these exchanges. She explained that a certain accounting trick can reduce the amount missing on paper and suggested that the shortage should be compensated for with a fictitious loan taken out by Vassilev. Such a document was then issued and backdated to 19 June and the loan was registered on the company Bromak instead of Vassilev.

CorpBank was ejected from the banking system of Bulgaria at exactly 11.45 a.m. on 20 June 2014. At 7 p.m. that day Vassilev gave instructions to cover up the discrepancy with a Written Statement/Receipt backdated to 19 June. As a result, BGN 206m are transferred to his company Bromak as a loan so that the missing money cannot be detected in an audit. He assured that he would transfer the money on the next working day (21 June) so that it is physically available in the volt, but that never happened.

“Vassilev did not provide the money, as was the case many times before,” Lazov said. In his presence, the document turned up dated 19 June and bearing the signatures of Vassilev and Orlin Rusev at the bottom, even though the bank’s executive director was in Vienna with Tsvetan Vassilev and returned on the next day.

At the same time as Lazov’s testimony, the restrictive measure hearing involving Vassilev’s one-time close associate Ivan Dzhidzhev (former president of the Botev football club and the Levski basketball club) was taking place in a next-door courtroom at the Specialised Criminal Court. According to the prosecution, Dzhidzhev’s company Valder Properties utilised a loan of BGN 9m more than authorised and the money went to the shell company BG Properties so that it can repay a CorpBank loan. Vassilev’s former accountant Biser Lazov is a witness in that case too.

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