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15 яну 2017, 15:18, 1311 прочитания

KTB files

Secrets of the oligarchy

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This article is part of K Quarterly # Issue 1 / November-January 2017. Contact us for subscription options on kq@economedia.bg
What? What was that?
Yanevagate, Bai Hui and KTBfiles

You have probably heard idioms and proverbs in Bulgarian that read like "The horse went into the river" or "A united company moves a mountain". when translated to English word-for-word They cause chuckle among your Bulgarian friends, but the only thing you can do is to raise politely your eyebrows. Many more similar meaningless phrases can be found in various websites which make fun of the habit (typical not only for Bulgarians) to translate literally idiomatic expressions and proverbs into English.
The current section of KQ has the ambition to explain the jargon of Bulgarian politics and economy which sometimes is as inexplicable if literally translated as in the above mentioned phrases. Who’s Cecoron? Or what "Tsvetan thoughts" means and what for the love of god ladybirds have to do with management?

A string of leaks and acquisitions linking former business partners Mr Vassilev and Mr Peevski, offers a look behind the scenes of business and political life in Bulgaria
Scandals between former business partners who had a nasty break up could be as revealing as the shouting between former lovers, who split breaking the family china. This is now happening in Bulgaria. Tsvetan Vassilev (you can see his name here and there in KQ), the former owner of bankrupt Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), began spitting details of his business dealings in the last ten years that shed a lot of light over the connection between business and politics. Of course, his newly found candidness did not come before his bank went down; he had to flee to Belgrade and his former partner Delyan Peevski (also a visible presence in this issue of KQ) began to take control over the remains of their former media and business empire.

In a string of leaks to a blog of a former journalist and most recently in an interview with KTBfiles, a research project aiming to explain how it was possible for CCB to highjack the Bulgarian authorities, Mr Vassilev made public a lot of dealings that were suspected but have never received any authoritative proof. "There is no way you can do serious business in Bulgaria if you refuse to make kickbacks to politicians", Vassilev said in the interview with KTBfiles.
His main accusations concern two of the biggest business deals in Bulgaria in the last ten years – the privatization of Bulgartabac and the recent acquisition of BTC. According to Mr Vassilev the owners are just a façade for the real interests behind the deal.

The former owner of CCB claims that his offer for Bulgartabac was rejected in 2011 so that Mr Peevski could take control over the company. Mr Vassilev claims now that current PM Boyko Borissov, his friend Alexander Staliyski and MRF leader Ahmed Dogan arranged the deal and were supposed to receive some of the company’s shares in exchange for their alleged support for the buyer of Bulgartabac. Back then the government decided that the new owner of the cigarette producer needed to commit firmly to buying tobacco from domestic producers. Such a requirement made tobacco majors uninterested (Mr Vassilev partnered with the Korean KT) and opened the way for domestically related interests. The alleged plot, with schemes drawn by Mr Peevski’s lawyer, appeared online a year ago, but their authenticity has not been verified.

Mr Vassilev makes similar accusations in connection with the BTC deal (see on page 24). The telecom changed hands recently cheaply. Again the authorities, which are the main loser from the deal, are suspiciously passive.
Mr Vassilev is not the perfect whistleblower but such revelations usually need to be followed by a serious investigation. The Bulgarian prosecutors are as usually absent. The only effect of the accusations of corruption until now is a hacker attack against ktbfiles.com.
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