Forbes Presents Story of Former Owner of Bulgaria's Collapsed Corpbank
In an article published in Forbes on Monday, Francis Coppola presents the story of the former owner of Bulgaria's Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB) – Tzvetan Vassilev.
Following a bank run in 2014, KTB was closed by the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) and its owner fled the country.
Media reports at the time claimed that the failure of the bank was due to a dispute between Vassilev and media mogul Delyan Peevski.
According to Vassilev, Peevski is only one of the main tools used by the Bulgarian political mafia to blackmail Bulgarian business and represents the “visible part of a rather large iceberg of corruption”.
In his words, the political mafia is trying to downgrade the failure of KTB to a personal conflict between Vassilev and Peevski, which is not the case.
Vassilev claims that he has had a conflict with the Bulgarian political mafia ruling the country and has been blackmailed and threatened by it for many years.
According to him, KTB fell victim to the greediness of the Bulgarian political mafia which controls most state institutions behind the curtain.
His story begins in April 2014, when he was asked to transfer assets for free to the mobster circle of DPS – one of the most influential players in Bulgarian politics and currently the third largest party in parliament.
Vassilev was threatened with collapse of the bank if he did not satisfy their request.
After refusing to bow down to the demands of DPS, the bank run was started on purpose when he was accused of having ordered the murder of Peevski.
Although the accusation was later disproved in court, more than 20 % of KTB assets were already withdrawn in cash in the space of four days.
BNB denied KTB liquidity support and the management of KTB asked the central bank to put it under special supervision.
At the same time, Fibank was also subject to bank run, which however was not allowed and the bank was provided with ample liquidity by BNB under EU State Aid rules.
Vassilev pointed to this example as demonstrative of the double standards applied by Bulgarian institutions.
After the bank run, KTB remained closed for nearly six months during which time depositors were not allowed access to their money.
Vassilev claims that Bulgaria was in triple breach of EU legislation regarding the treatment of depositors.
Despite calls of the European Commission and the European Banking authority to compensate depositors, Bulgaria refused as under its legislation the bank had to be declared insolvent before being able to pay deposit insurance.
According to Vassilev, the audit of KTB performed by Deloitte, EY and AFA was “fake”.
He also pointed to the incompetence of BNB which had allowed KTB to acquire Credit Agricole Bulgaria only a week before its collapse.
Vassilev is accused of embezzlement for running a pyramid financing scheme, but no charges have been brought against him.
He denies the accusations and claims that the evidences against him are fabricated.
Vassilev reminded that BNB had dismissed proposal by the bank's shareholders for a rescue plan and a week later the licence of KTB was revoked and the bank was declared insolvent.
Coppola concludes that an independent investigation into the bank's collapse as well as prompt and effective action by the EU is desperately needed.
She calls on Bulgaria to follow the example of Romania in its efforts on uprooting widespread corruption.
Read the full article here.
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