Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), a significant player in the Bulgarian banking sector, lost its banking license on 6 November 2014, several months after declaring insolvency.
In July 2017, nearly three years later, Bulgaria’s public prosecution lodged court action against the bank’s owner, Tzvetan Vassilev and 17 other defendants. Vassilev has allegedly embezzled BGN 2.56 billion (EUR 1.31 billion), as well as BGN 205.9 million in cash, and has been indicted on 146 counts. He is currently in Serbia, fighting the extradition appeal of Bulgarian authorities.
The Anti-Corruption Fund Foundation (ACF) has gained access to the 200,000 pages of evidence on the KTB case, lodged in court by the prosecution. ACF’s analysis of the documents raises serious questions about the handling of the case and whether the prosecution examined thoroughly and in good faith all factors that caused the bank’s collapse.
According to the Public Prosecution, KTB was a financial pyramid scheme. However, ACF’s investigation suggests that the definition is too narrow and represents a missed opportunity to investigate the powerful links between Bulgaria’s business elite and the political class.
One example which raises suspicions about the existence of such ties is a long list of politicians, public figures, media company owners, and high-level public officials whose names appear in the investigation documents and who had visited KTB’s headquarters not as clients but as guests of the bank’s owner or the main cashier of the bank. Very few of these people have been interrogated.
ACF’s investigation aims to shed light on the identities of these persons in a bit to help the public decide if all avenues had been exhausted by the public prosecution.