Bulgaria’s prosecution probes alleged money laundering involving PM Borissov

By bne IntelliNews February 24, 2020

Bulgaria’s prosecution said on February 24 it has launched an investigation following reports by Spanish daily El Periodico of a money laundering case related to a luxury house purchased in Spain, in which Prime Minister Boyko Borissov might be involved.

The investigation reported by El Periodico has been confirmed by the police, according to Bulgarian media.

The prosecution in Sofia will request information from the Spanish authorities and will demand explanations from all parties involved regarding their alleged transactions, the prosecution said in a statement.

Sceptics in Bulgaria saw this move as a PR action that will not lead to any result as the prosecution was informed about the case by the same civic organisation that has alerted the authorities in Spain years ago, but Bulgarian prosecutors did not start an investigation at the time.

Also on February 24, the prosecution said that it is launching a probe into an alleged corruption case involving former prime minister Ivan Kostov — one of the main critics of Borissov's government — who has been pointed out as the politician who set Bulgaria’s course towards the EU and Nato and had carried out the hardest part of the transition from communism to the market economy.

This investigation was launched after on February 16 bTV broadcasted an interview with US economist Steve Hanke, in which suggestions about corruption involving Kostov were made. During the interview, Hanke said he had proof of corruption but provided no further details. He only said that these documents were provided to the former president Peter Stoyanov.

Suspected money laundering scheme probed

According to El Periodico, the police in the Catalonia autonomous region were probing whether Borissov was linked to an international money laundering scheme. The article describes allegations that former model Borislava Yovcheva, her father and two companies have received more than €5mn since 2013 from non-Spanish individuals.

The police are investigating a possible relationship between Yovcheva and Borissov. Several years ago Bulgarian investigative news outlet Bivol.bg published information that Borissov has a child with Yovcheva and that he bought her the luxury house in Spain. These allegations were denied by Borissov.

According to El Periodico, the house in Barcelona and a Porsche Macan that Yovcheva reportedly had been seen driving attracted the attention of the police as the former model and her father, who is living with her, have not declared income that would allow them to afford such a standard of living.

The newspaper wrote that it has seen documents from Spain’s anti-corruption prosecution office saying this money of suspicious origin “might be related to undeclared funds of high-ranking officials in the Bulgarian government”.

The case concerning the luxury house in Barcelona was made public for the first time in 2015 when a leaked conversation between two judges and an unknown third individual included the claim that Borissov had bought a property in Barcelona for a girlfriend for €1.5mn.

Then, in 2016, Elena Yoncheva, a member of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, provided documents related to the same property to the Bulgarian prosecution. However, no investigation was launched in Bulgaria and in 2018 the Bulgarian civic movement Boec alerted the police in Spain.

Borissov denied buying the house once again on February 21 and accused Russia and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev of leading a hybrid war against him.

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