Socialist MP: F1 Blackmail Tarnishes Bulgarian Image

Business | September 7, 2010, Tuesday // 15:02
Socialist MP: F1 Blackmail Tarnishes Bulgarian Image: Socialist MP: F1 Blackmail Tarnishes Bulgarian Image The MP from the opposition Socialist Party, and former Interior Minister, Rumen Petkov, says the recent scandal surrounding the project to build a F1 racetrack in Bulgaria is having a bad reflection on the country's image. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian authorities must interfere and deal with the attempts to blackmail Abu Dhabi businessmen, the Member of the Parliament from the opposition Socialist Party, and former Interior Minister, Rumen Petkov, insists.

Petkov spoke Tuesday in the northern city of Pleven, saying if the State keeps quiet about the issue, other potential investors would end up thinking they too can become victims of pranksters.

Petkov, who is also the Chair of the Initiative Committee for the project to build a Formula 1 racetrack in the village of Dobroslavtsi, made the statements in connection with the scandal that broke after Anwar Badwan, reportedly an adviser of the Abu Dhabi consortium Emirates Associated Business Group (EABG), complained he received an email asking him the pay USD 94 M to "to clean the atmosphere," surrounding the F1 project, and another one threatening him to not come to Bulgaria.

Badwan arrived in Sofia Saturday to help settle an international scandal about the construction of a Bulgarian Formula 1 track.

It was reported on Monday that young Bulgarian IT experts, living abroad, have sent via e-mail the racket demands and the threats.

"Most probably they did it for fun, because these are young and well educated people, Formula 1 fans. We hope to manage to contact them with the cooperation of our partners abroad at the beginning of the week," Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said.

On Tuesday, Petkov declared the emails were not a funny joke, but a demonstration of bad taste and a rude sense of humor.

"When there is such form of large-scale blackmail and then we say it was just a joke, we as a State must be aware of the consequences. If we say, forget it, they were just pranksters, we send the wrong message to blackmailers that it is ok to ask for ransoms and to all potential investors, who now know they would be subject to such "jokes." We must have common standards, common criteria, or we are not a State," the socialist MP said.

Petkov revealed that in addition to the two emails, there was a third one offering EABG mediation services to help the negotiations with the Bulgarian cabinet, which he said was also a form of racket and the authorities must deal with it as well.

Last Friday, the Bulgarian daily "Sega" reported EABG refuted statements of Bulgarian authorities it will invest in the project to build a Formula 1 racetrack.

The Sega daily cited a company statement informing EABG had no intentions whatsoever to invest in any such endeavor, and is very disappointed by the way the information got twisted around they would cancel all investment plans in Bulgaria all together.

The CEO of EABG, Raid Abu Hudra, is quoted saying the group never before encountered such lack of professionalism and will do their best to warn all its partners to not invest in Bulgaria.

The problem largely stems from an August 30 official press release of the Bulgarian Economy Ministry, which listed EABG as a state-owned, not private, and its owner Mohammed Abdul Jalil al Blouki was presented as a Sheikh of "Abu Dhabi", not as businessman. In its coverage, (Sofia News Agency) corrected this information after conducting its own research.

Also on Friday, the Economy Ministry declared that EABG is committed to the plans for building a Formula 1 circuit in the country despite a misunderstanding that led to an international scandal.

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Tags: Rumen Milanov, unit for combating organized crime, Prime Minister, Sheikhs, Raid ABu Hudra, Boyko Borisov, Rumen Petkov, Bogdan Nikolov, UAE, EABG, Emirates Associated Business Group, United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Abdul Jalil al Blouki, Formula 1, Economy Minister, Traicho Traikov, Economy Ministry, Nikolay Mladenov, Foreign Minister, Anwar Badwan, F1-gate, Formula 1-Gate, Dobroslavtsi
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