Bulgarian Oligarch's Lawyer Says Charges are 'Juridical Nonsense'

Politics » DOMESTIC | May 30, 2012, Wednesday // 15:45
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Oligarch's Lawyer Says Charges are 'Juridical Nonsense' Businessman Grisha Ganchev will plead not guilty to both counts, according to his lawyer. Photo by BGNES

The lawyer of well-known Bulgarian businessman Grisha Ganchev, who was charged Tuesday with running an organized crime group specialized in tax fraud and with issuing a murder threat, has referred to the accusations as a "juridical nonsense" driven by subjective interests.

Bulgaria's Specialized Prosecutor's Office has ruled that Ganchev has to pay a bail amounting to BGN 500 000.

According to the prosecuting authority, the evidence gathered so far indicates that Ganchev ran the six-strong group of alleged VAT fraudsters that was busted on May 11 after a joint operation of the Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP) and the National Revenue Agency (NRA).

The special police operation resulted in six arrests, including Grisha Ganchev's son, Danail Ganchev.

Ganchev also faces charges of threatening to kill Krasimir Stefanov, Executive Director of the National Revenue Agency (NRA).

In a Wednesday interview for Darik radio, Petar Chalamov says that it was not Grisha Ganchev but a middleman who issued the murder threat to Stefanov.

He specifies that a subordinate of the NRA head threatened him over the phone.

Chalamov claims that his client is not guilty.

According to a Wednesday statement of Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, Ganchev issued the murder threat via a former NRA official.

Ganchev's defenders have not decided whether to appeal the record-breaking bail of BGN 500 000.

Chalamov draws attention to the fact that the charges against Ganchev were pressed quite some time after the special police operation targeting alleged tax fraudsters in the sugar industry.

"Just as we thought that the members and leaders of the group had been identified and localized, the group somehow acquired another leader, about whom there was no information in the 15-20 days after the pre-trial proceedings were opened ," Ganchev's lawyer argues.

"As regards the other crime, a threat against a very high-ranking government official, the accusation is absolute non-sense and a legal absurd. A person cannot be threatened via another person," he notes.

He says that the murder threat issued over the phone belongs to another crime category.

"The threat must always be direct, be it made face to face or in a phone conversation with the respective threatened person. You cannot pass it on via an intermediary – you cannot place the threatened person in reasonable fear via an intermediary," the legal expert insists.

He suggests that the proceedings are manipulated and are driven by personal interests.

Chalamov emphasizes that his client will plead not guilty to both counts.

"The way in which the lawsuit was opened, the way in which the charges were pressed, the random and subjective extension of the crime ring, the way in which the bail was set, because the bail amount is to be determined on the basis of the person's financial status, while in this case no such research was carried out...To set such a bail, the investigating magistrate or prosecutor needs to provide motives, which are nowhere to be found in this case," Ganchev states, commenting on the record-high bail imposed by the Specialized Prosecutor's Office.

The lawyer adds that if Ganchev fails to pay the bail, his remand measure will be changed to one of the three: a larger bail amount, house arrest or remand in custody, according to provisions  of the Penal Procedure Code.

Grisha Ganchev is the owner of the Litex FC and the Litex company, based in the northern Bulgarian city of Lovech.

As of the end of 2011, Ganchev's joint venture with the Chinese company Great Wall Motors, Litex Motors, started the production of Chinese cars for the EU market in the Litex Motors factory near Bulgaria's Lovech, in the village of Bahovitsa.

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Tags: Grisha Ganchev, organized crime group, VAT fraud, sugar, Litex, murder threat, Penal Procedure Code, bail, National Revenue Agency, Krasimir Stefanov, NRA

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