Top Bulgarian President Runner Denies Being Asked for Bribe

Politics » PRESIDENTAL & LOCAL ELECTIONS 2011 | September 14, 2011, Wednesday // 18:18| Views: | Comments: 3
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Top Bulgarian President Runner Denies Being Asked for Bribe: Top Bulgarian President Runner Denies Being Asked for Bribe Bulgaria's former Minister of Regional Development, Rosen Plevneliev, and top runner to become Bulgaria's next president is adamant he had never been blackmailed as Interior Minister Tsvetanov claims. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's former Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Rosen Plevneliev, firmly denied ever been blackmailed in one of his projects as private businessman, before entering politics.

Plevneliev, who is now considered the top runner to become Bulgaria's next president on the ticket of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party, spoke Wednesday in a 7-minute press conference where reporters were not allowed to ask questions.

He called the conference after 5 days of silence, amidst the scandal provoked by revelations of Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, head of the GERB election headquarters, who, speaking for journalists last Friday, revealed that Plevneliev had declined reporting an extortion case.

"I never met any "brokers" – not one, not two, not three. No one had asked me personally for a bribe. You know very well that a bribe is never asked for directly, but rather through some hushed hints. And I have never given a bribe," Plevneliev said.

According to Tsvetanov, in 2007, Plevneliev told him that three municipal councilmen from the City Hall, known as the "municipal brokers," have asked him for a bribe of EUR 500 000 to secure his ownership of a small land plot in the Sofia Business Park, one of the top projects of the presidential nomination of GERB as a businessman.

The plot was property of the City Hall and Plevneliev needed it to finalize the project.

Tsvetanov further informed that after learning about the case he advised the now-presidential hopeful to report it to the police, but the latter declined on the grounds "he did not want to participate in such mechanisms."

The Interior Minister's revelations turned into a scandal because they raised questions as to why neither he nor Plevneliev reported the case to the authorities since the law requires them to do so.

Speaking for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, on Monday, the municipal councilman from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and Socialist candidate to run for Mayor of Sofia in the upcoming October 23 elections, Georgi Kadiev, confirmed that three councilmen have blackmailed Plevneliev.

Kadiev declined disclosing the names of the three individuals, but mentioned current and former councilmen from GERB were involved, and stressed the Prosecutor's Office must be notified about the case.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, the site for investigative journalism, bivol.bg, reported that one of its editors, Atanas Tchobanov, and Petar Penchev, both members of the Association for Free Speech Anna Politkoskaya, sent a letter to the Chief Prosecutor notifying him about the blackmail and Tsvetanov's and Plevneliev's failure to report it, along with the Penal Code texts that are the base of their claim.

Velchev told the media that he was expecting similar alerts to inundate his office with the approaching elections, some of them simply slander, but promised that all will be probed according to the rules and the law.

Plevneliev's Wednesday press conference statement, in reality, came in full contradiction with Tsvetanov's story. He further stated that the Business Park case had reached a favorable conclusion only thanks to the strong will of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, in his capacity as Mayor of Sofia at the time, and to the municipal councilmen, who supported the latter's decision.

The presidential hopeful labeled the scandal as the "complete helplessness of the opposition and its failure to part with the past and participate in elections with a new vision."

"I have had enough in the last few days listening to everyone's interpretations. In the last months, I warned on numerous occasions that those who have been in politics for a long time will continue to do politics the only way they know – with demagogy, made-up stories, and even lies. You know me as an open and honest man, and I will remain such by putting all facts on the table," Plevneliev told the media representatives.

He described the Business Park case the following way:

The Sofia Municipal Council made decisions in 2001 and 2002 to swap land plots, owned by the Business Park and huge investments in infrastructure. The Business Park donated a large land plot on the beltway and infrastructure investments in the amount of BGN tens of millions for a  plot of 14 dekares, located on the unfinished Alexander Malinov Boulevard. Despite these decisions, from 2002 to 2008, the Sofia City Hall never finalized the deal. The Business Park had purchased the land; had invested millions in infrastructure, and waited for the City Hall to fulfill their commitments. During these years of delay, the law office, servicing the Business Park, had been part of many meetings of different committees of the Sofia Municipal Council with the hope the case will be finalized. Between 2002 and 2007, the German company Lindner and its auditors, KPMG, had huge difficulties to include the deal in the balance sheet of the head company, which is on the stock exchanges and has operations in 64 countries. An enormous problem had been created because against investments of tens of millions for the purchase of a land plot there was nothing to account for. The German investors had been planning to sue the City Hall over the lengthy delay.

According to Pelvneliev, only after Borisov became Mayor of Sofia, a clear commitment, instead of empty promises, had been made, and the deal had been finally concluded when 49 out of 54 councilmen voted for it.

"This is where the story ends. My position will always be to tell the truth. I will not take part in wars of slander – let's not turn the presidential campaign into a personal battle over old issues. I said everything on the subject I had to say. Thank you," Plevneliev concluded.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Boris Velchev, Chief Prosecutor, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Interior Minister, land plot, business park, businessman, extortion scam, municipal, Rosen Plevneliev, Regional Minister, presidential candidate, GERB, Georgi Kadiev, elections, Mayor of Sofia, candidate, BSP, Bulgarian Socialist Party, municipal councilmеn, DANS, elections, interior ministry
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» To the forumComments (3)
#3
hercules - 15 Sep 2011 // 14:38:07

This is why !

The Interior Minister's revelations turned into a scandal because they raised questions as to why neither he nor Plevneliev reported the case to the authorities since the law requires them to do so.

#2
denis - 15 Sep 2011 // 13:55:44

Actually I can't see what the problem is if he was asked for a bribe, as long as he said "no" & didn't pay.
If he paid the bribe or he tried to bribe someone else then there is a story.

#1
hercules - 15 Sep 2011 // 08:15:37

According to Tsvetanov, in 2007, Plevneliev told him that three municipal councilmen from the City Hall, known as the "municipal brokers," have asked him for a bribe of EUR 500 000 to secure his ownership of a small land plot in the Sofia Business Park, one of the top projects of the presidential nomination of GERB as a businessman.



Garbage out…. Garbage in. The Bulgarian political tradition of corruption and deceit is alive and kicking……

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