Panama Papers: Bulgaria Waiting for ICIJ Data
Bulgaria has found no evidence of wrongdoing by Bulgarians in the Panama Papers affair, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov has said.
He has made clear that the National Revenue Agency (NRA) stands ready to look into any new name of a Bulgarian national that appears in media publications as involved in offshore dealings.
At least 50 companies, 16 company owners and 78 shareholders from across Bulgaria have been linked to registrations in offshore jurisdictions around the world, according to Sofia-based news daily newspaper 24 Chasa, which is the only Bulgarian partner to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Another 100 people were directors, agents, lawyers or liquidators; some of them were foreign nationals residing in Bulgaria or having Bulgarian passports.
Only seven names have been disclosed so far. These include the Banevi family (Evgeniya Baneva and Nikolay Banev), the owners of a holding company, Mr Banev also being a presidential candidate; arms trader and media publisher Petar Mandzhukov; Chavdar Kanchev, who headed a state-owned bank before its privatization; Todor Batkov, the former owner of Levski PFC who once worked as a lawyer for controversial businessman Michael Cherney; Angel Bozhilov, an entrepreneur who co-owned an energy consultancy firm that employed a former security head, Petko Sertov, at a time he mysteriously disappeared; Stoyan Cheshmedzhiev, a former head of the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA).
The NRA initially submitted a request to 24 Chasa, but later redirected it to the ICIJ. The Bulgarian News Agency quotes Goranov as saying there has been no response from the consortium as of Tuesday, April 12.
"If it turns out no tax has been paid on the transactions [to offshore entities], we have our instruments to collect what is owed," Goranov has made clear.
"To me, the use of offshore companies shows you want to run away from something, be it your identity, be it the origin of your funds, be it taxation. This is an answer that has to be delivered by people with offshore accounts, and their reply should in no way be that they are hiding from the state."
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