The order to build the notorious vacation village "Arda," better known as The Customs Agents Village, was signed in 2000 by the then Regional Minister, Evgeni Chachev.
The information was reported Wednesday by the Governor of the southern Haskovo Region, Rumen Danev, upon the conclusion of the probe he requested in the vicinity of the Ivaylovgrad dam.
Circus Bulgaria rolls on !
As said yesterday, there is nothing new here and the "Mafia" hideout appears to be a project on state property signed and supported by the previous Government. And Mr. Danev does not need to wash his hands and pretend he needs a probe to find out the situation - he has been there personally several times as a guest and all the technical documents are available in his municipality.!
And correct- the roads are public, partly financed by EU funds, and with public tenders. Mains/electricity bills are paid and in full order and the property project is registered with all properties, but some of them are waiting for final approval due to technical issues.
So what is illegal here or in Sofia ? Not much in Haskovo, and in Sofia it is a fact that Mr. Borisov was mayor when a lot of these luxury properties were built and he knows perfectly well the situation. More amazing are the reactions of the Chief Architect in Sofia. The "murky" luxury properties were approved by his office and most of them are registered and connected to Sofia's mains grid- and the bills have been paid and the roads are public and built with taxpayers money- so is security.
Much more amusing is the fact that a lot of the property owners are high ranked policemen and officials working in or for the Interior Ministry !! It must be quite embarrassing for Saint Tsvetanov and an political u-turn is required.
Are the property owners murky crooks or just victims of a political pr.campaign that went wrong?
The obvious question is : How can a policeman with 900 leva monthly salary afford to finance a property purchased at 670 000 euros and paid in cash and no mortgage/loan?
And again - who is paying the leasing of the helicopter? NRA or the Interior Ministry. Either way it is public money spent on discovering something that is already in official documents.
We are eagerly waiting for the next spectacular useless stunt from NRA or the Interior Ministry!
"I hope so. Let's see what happens in the next months. I am optimistic, that they will start in the near future. Otherwise it will end in a disaster."
Jurgen Roth is optimistic and hopes the Cabinet will start in the near future. He has obviously observed that the Bulgarian Government has not yet started, more than one year after it came to power.
But will it start to fight corruption and crimes in a transparent and credible way? Then implement the necessary reforms ?
I am not that optimistic as changes do not come from exchanging key political figures or getting rid of so called murky businessmen. In Bulgaria corruption is not generally accepted as a crime. It has become a mainstream culture that involves nearly every Bulgarian-from the local shopkeeper to ministers in the Government. The bribes are still being paid, more now than ever before- draining of EU funds and public money has increased- and fixing public tenders to family and friends is as common today as before 2007.
It will not end in a disaster- it already is. What appears to horrendous corruption for EU,is a deeply rooted and broadly accepted way of living in Bulgaria. It is hard to define Mafia in a Bulgarian setting as they are not the murky characters with dark sunglasses, black cars and bodyguards we have seen in movies. They are politicians. public servants , policemen or agency officers- it could be anyone anywhere in Bulgaria. And certainly Rumen Petkov does not consider himself corrupt or involved with criminals as he knows no other reality. He still enjoys bodyguards(24 hours) paid by public money, free accommodation and "free" services in hotels and restaurant as it has been since 1947. And of course he will threaten and be abusive to anyone who question his rights and authority.
I think the only option is to let political disaster evolve and bring about emergency radical changes without compassion, funding and support from EU. Comply/Change or leave the Union. Hoping for Borisov or Tsvetanov to be Bulgaria's saviors is a dead end, and there is no reason for anyone to threaten them.
There is nothing new in these measures.
Bulgaria has for decades had unreasonable high taxes on "luxury" cars (more than 120 kW) and was fined by EU. Now it is reintroduced. It will hardly have any significant impact on Bulgaria's finances, as import of cars to Bulgaria has decreased dramatically.
Higher property taxes might be popular with the general public due to NRA's staged helicopter flights and dramatic revelations, but an estimated 10 mill. leva in extra tax revenues can hardly pay for the helicopter.Then of course the owners will transfer the properties to businesses/companies.
More troublesome are the "local" property taxes and regular bribes to corrupt municipality officials- mayors, engineers, municipality architects etc. These vary from municipality to municipality, and some cases are rather extreme. This is part of Bulgaria's grey sector, and the Cabinet's austerity measures and cuts in public spending will leave to the municipalities to raise funds/revenues.
So we are back to square one in the fight against corruption and for sure local officials will take advantage of the situation with more economic pressure on property/luxury car owners.
It will be a revival of traditional Bulgarian business with cash hand - overs to tax inspectors, mayors, land registry, building regulations, customs officers and policemen etc to fix our" problems". And investors will think more than twice to waste their money on rampant corruption and blackmail from officials.
The flat-rate income tax might have a way to attract investments and economic activity, but it does not work. Add health insurance, social security, fees and local taxes/charges for main-electricity,gas/heating and water and local property taxes.
Bulgaria is still the poorest and most corrupt member of EU, but has a combined tax-level next to UK and is one of the most expensive country to live in. And organized crime and corruption flourish as ever before.
The Bulgarian Government is certainly acting in a non-precedented authoritarian way, but with meager moral authority. The President is not everybody's favorite politician, but he occasionally glimpses with moments of true statesmanship and political dignity.
That is quite an achievement in todays Bulgaria!
The country certainly needs political and financial stability, but not at any cost. It might take social unrest,protests and civil resistance to remind politicians of their obligations to the population. The Interior Minister has a notorious record of violating the most common principles of democracy and law and order, and is not contributing much to morality. As Interior Minister he should be more concerned that his own employees are increasingly represented in serious organized crime and corruption cases. The Bulgarian police in general has become a liability and a threat to most Bulgarians and a stain on Bulgaria's reputation abroad.
Of all public sectors in the Bulgarian society ,the Judiciary and the Police Force are the most in urgent and critical need of reforms/changes. It might cause problems and instability, but serves democracy in the long haul and might gain some moral authority back as well.
"Much of the property is hidden in the woods and can't be seen," said NRA spokesman Rossen Bachvarov.
What an awful lot of absurd nonsense !
Most , nearly all, of these prestigious properties are connected to public roads and they are also connected to local mains-water, electricity and drainage- and therefore also registered
in property registers. Banko outside Sofia and Markovo near Plovdiv are well marked with public roadsigns and accessible by ordinary roads, driveways and local buss stops.
Not exactly the Robin Hood hideouts the NRA officials would like us to believe ! Many of these properties have been there for the last 10-15 years, have been sold and changed ownership several times via local notaries and deeds have been issued correctly (well, the Bulgarian version of legality !). They did not suddenly show up after being dropped down by alien spaceships!
NRA is staging a coordinated dramatic media stunt with the Cabinet to show EU that serious actions are taken to clamp down on sophisticated organized crime and corruption.
Well, good luck then!!
It might be an unpleasant political boomerang as too many of these dodgy "tax cheaters" are far from being murky businessmen. They are public servants - policemen, customs officers, politicians ,tax inspectors, MPs and State/Cabinet or Municipality officials.
NRA is acting on behalf of the Cabinet and Stefanov knows perfectly well he will be sacked if he steps aside the thin line of wanted revelations. And eh, most of the "private" security in these areas is provided by local authorities and tax payers money. The helicopter is not free of charge but costs 25-30 000 leva + pr.hour to keep in the air, again public money.
Why not take the bus or a taxi, knock on the door and make a regular and official property visit - like the tax authorities do in all other EU countries ?
The big words-show off drama will be over in a week or so
Here we go again !
Only the Police and Customs Agency knew where the gold was stored, and the alarm and the surveillance cameras were turned off for hours. The alarm system is connected to the police and the agency- a lot of officers were on duty, but no one noticed that the alarm "mysteriously" was turned off. Inside job? I bet!
How difficult can it be to investigate ? Well, do not expect any results soon and the police has other problems to struggle with due to cuts in public spending. A roadside bribe or harassment of truck drivers does not make big contributions to the officer's private pension fund, but this graft does.
Look at it from the bright side: the stolen gold was never to be returned to its legitimate owners and thieves steal from thieves as usual in Bulgaria. Shocking theft ? Not at all, but business as usual in Bulgaria.
"After the information was announced, I talked to Tsvetanov and the Prime Minister. In order to prevent any speculations and secrets and to have maximum transparency, we decided to start the audit," Stefanov said.
Bravo, the snowball has started to roll!
And Dear Mister Stefanov, you do not need PM's or Tsvetanov's approval and a tap on your shoulder to start an audit or investigation !
The same rule goes for undeclared properties owned by policemen, officials and family related to Cabinet members. No wonder EU suspects nearly 100% breaches of conflict of interest in public tenders.
The former government was responsible for rampant corruption on all levels, and it would be extremely naive to expect radical changes. New faces, but the same corruption culture reigns.
It would be nice to see more investigating and critical journalism in Bulgarian media, instead of repeating biased statements from "officials". Not as aggressive as News of The World,but more independent.
Or do Bulgarian Media have to do like Mr.Stefanov- ask for permission first?
"This was a project, offered by a Belgian company, for a center for video-monitoring of the subway stations. It was supposed to be a donation to the Sofia municipality, which never gave even BGN 1 to this company and never will," Tsvetanov said.
Well, Minister Tsvetanov must have a lot of irregular visits by Santa Claus ! First he receives donations from a private company in form of properties- for no obvious reason whatsoever. Then he is telling a fairytale about a Belgian company/fund that donates 1 mill.euro to Sofia municipality. EU funds are never offered for free or given as donations. The bottom line is a detailed eu- standard application for project funding/financing,then spending is monitored due to conditions set etc. And funds are normally never 100% as the applicant has to guarantee 40- 60% of the investments in the project.
However, one time grants might be given for non commercial project, but of limited scale f.ex.20-50000 euro.
It should be very easy to check. EU funding is publicly announced and the Minister is not violating any rules by revealing the Belgian company's name and let any journalist/official check out the facts.
The story smells from A to Z, and Petrov's allegations,sadly enough, make a lot of sense.
It is not the first time Bulgarian officials have been involved in "scams" with EU funds, and modus operandi is quite common. I suggest the Minister is 100% transparent and put all the facts on the table-in public.
Rejecting the serious allegations by being arrogant is not a good idea. He is safe from any judicial sanctions anyway by immunity, and he can alway insist the Judiciary is corrupt and connected to organized crime.
But "Mr. Clean" needs more substantial arguments than blunt rejections.
You're right, Dino, LNG is a better and more sustainable option - but I still think Nabucco might be going ahead without Bulgaria.
Bulgaria's ever changing position to South Stream and Nabucco- include Belene NPP
as well- has caused concerns in Brussel as well as Moscow. The joint-venture agreement between Bulgaria and Russia for South Stream will probably never be signed as Bulgaria is unable to fulfill any financial commitment in the project. EU will certainly not fund Bulgaria's participation in the project!
Just wait for PM Borisov to announce South Stream put on hold again due to "environmental " issues !
Bulgaria is playing blind political chess with Russia and EU these days, and will probably loose the game and end up with it's nose in the ditch- as usual!
Who wants a sleeping partner who it totally unreliable and wants only the benefits, not sharing the costs ? Has the country not learned the lessons from F1, New Jerusalem, Bulgaria's Louvre, Belene etc ?
"It is unclear how exactly Tsvetanov's family acquired these apartments since 2008. Documents that we have collected show that his family has no business so it is unclear how their income grew by BGN 565 000 in one year," Yanev said.
Well,well, the Bulgarian saga repeats itself! The Knight of Justice in Bulgaria serves as a police officer, then enters the political arena. His salary boosts from 22000 leva to allegedly 565000 in mysterious ways. A private company gives him 6 luxury apartments for no known reason and he ends up owning 9 luxury properties worth estimated 4.5 mill leva,
Another high-ranked official/politician joins the ranks of other police officers, custom officers, state agency directors, MPs and deputy ministers owning luxury properties, cars, yachts ,hotels and bank accounts in tax heavens.
If the allegations are true, his public police actions against organized crime and corruption have to be seen in a different light. They might be, what most people think, arranged showcases to demonstrate Bulgaria's fight against corruption
And if true - another wakeup call for EU Commission/OLAF. The minister cannot be investigated or prosecuted as he has immunity. He should resign and agree to be investigated to clean his name.
But will he do that?
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