Bulgarian PM orders investigation into all privatisations of past 25 years

Bulgarian PM orders investigation into all privatisations of past 25 years

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told a Cabinet meeting on October 26 that he had asked the Interior Ministry and State Agency for National Security (SANS) to investigate all the privatisations that took place since the start of the country’s transitition to democracy, more than 25 years ago.

Borissov did not say what time-frame he had given the ministry and SANS to complete what would be a mammoth investigative project.

He was apparently stung by allegations against him regarding the privatisation of former tobacco monopoly Bulgartabac.

On a morning television programme, opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova said that it was Borissov who had sold Bulgartabac, after she had resisted doing so.

Ninova was deputy minister of economy and energy in a socialist-led coalition government from September 2005 to March 2007, and from December 2005 was chairperson of the managing board of Bulgartabac.

She indicated that she had opposed Delyan Peevski, the controversial figure who sits as an MP for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and a result had been the target of rumours that she was corrupt.

Ninova was dismissed from her post by the then-prime minister Sergei Stanishev in 2007 after she became the subject of an investigation into alleged criminal obstruction of justice. That investigation led nowhere.

She said that she had been pressured to sell Bulgartabac for 100 million leva, “I did not agreed, I was fired. Then came Boiko Borissov, who sold it for 100 million to those people”.

Borissov said that the investigation by the Interior Ministry and SANS would begin immediately after the November 2016 presidential elections.

He said that it was not him who had sold Bulgartabac. This had been done by the Privatisation Agency. The head of the agency should also explain how the deal was done with CitiBank as a consultant, one of the largest banks with experience in privatisation deals, when Traicho Traikov – now the Reformist Bloc candidate in the presidential elections – was the supervising minister.

Borissov referred to recent controversy about the sale of land on which historic buildings stand in central Sofia and said that because he saw how such controversies are “quickly forgotten” he had ordered the investigation.

The ministry and SANS would have to check all privatisation deals and “make clear who, when and what is sold and whether the price was right”./IBNA