The Chief Prosecutor Orders Check Over Azerbaijani Laundromat

Politics » DOMESTIC | September 7, 2017, Thursday // 16:32
Bulgaria: The Chief Prosecutor Orders Check Over Azerbaijani Laundromat

The Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov ordered an investigation in relation to media publications about payments made by Azerbaijani companies to the accounts of Kalin Mitrev, Bulgaria’s representative on the board of directors of the European Bank for Reconstructiion and Development (EBRD).

The investigation will be carried out by the Prosecutor's office. The National Revenue Agency will be assigned to establish if there is any evidence of tax evasion or money laundering, the Prosecutor’s Office said on 7th September.

Mitrev commented today to Nova TV that "the campaign against me is a pointless speculation. Sufficiently sensational to cause interest and harm to me and my family. For me this is a campaign.'' recalls  that a recently revealed Bulgarian connection in a global money laundering scheme, tagged by Guardian Azerbaijani Laundromat, cast a shadow over yesterday's not so enthusiastic celebrations of the country's Independence Day.

While PM Boyko Borisov and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras were shaking hand assuring each other of the Balkans' stability and prosperity, Bulgaria's European reputation suddenly began to crack.

This time it is not because of problems with the absorption of EU subsidies, or a gaffe in the preparations for Bulgaria's oncoming EU Presidency.

It is because of Kalin Mitrev, who was appointed last year to the board of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In the period 2012-2014, Mitrev received at least €425,000 for private consulting work from a local Azeri company, Avuar Co. He acknowledges the payments and says they were for legitimate business consultancy. He denies all knowledge of the conduit used to execute them or the original source of the funds.

"All the income, generated by activities in different countries, was duly reported and taxed in my country of residence, Bulgaria," Mitrev said. His consultancy work stopped when he joined the London bank, he said.

The revelation that her husband consulted for an Azeri company might prove awkward for Mitrev's wife, Irina Bokova, who is the director general of Unesco. Bokova has bestowed one of Unesco's highest honours, the Mozart Medal on Azerbaijan's first lady and vice-president, Mehriban Aliyeva. She also hosted a photo exhibition at Unesco's headquarters in Paris, entitled Azerbaijan – A Land of Tolerance. The Heydar Aliyev foundation organised the event.

Asked by the Guardian whether there was a conflict between her husband's work and her UN role, she strongly denied this, saying she had no knowledge of her husband's business affairs.

"As a director general of a UN agency, my duty is to develop sound working relations with all members of the organisation in conformity with the policies set by member states. Azerbaijan is not an exception in this respect.

I am immensely proud of my determined pursuit of the mandate of Unesco, including in the area of human rights, freedom of expression and the safety of journalists," Bokova said, according to Standart News

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Tags: Sotir Tsatsarov, laundromat, azerbaijan

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