The building on 7 Suborna St used by the Administrative Court – Sofia has been rented at a price almost double the market rates, an ACF investigation has shown.
The building was first rented in October 2007 by the Ministry of Justice (with contract No 15-00-566 of 15.10.2007). At that time, Miglena Tatcheva was Justice Minister.
According to commercial information publicly availabe at the time the rental agreement was signed, the average price per sq.m. in the area was EUR 11.38. The Ministry of Justice, however, paid EUR 16 per sq.m. to Translat AD, the building owner. This was a considerably higher price compared to market rates, especially given the large surface area of the building (2,399.57 sq. m.).
Following amendments to the Bulgarian Constitution in 2015 and to the Judiciary Act in 2016, all properties owned by the judiciary fell under the management of the Plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). Consequently, at the end of March 2017, the SJC rented the same building for EUR 13.50 per sq. m.
ACF sent an Access to public information request submitted to the SJC, inquiring about the deal. The SJC stated that “the average rental price in the area at the time of signing the contract was EUR 7.89 per sq. m.” However, the contract between the SJC and Translad AD was for nearly double that price.
The SJC justified their decision to agree to such a deal with the fact that there were no other buildings in the area, large enough to accommodate the administrations of the SJC, the Sofia Province Administrative Court, the Sofia City Prosecution Office, and the Sofia Province Regional Prosecution Office. However, the SJC did not explain why all these units of the judiciary had to be located precisely in the area of Suborna St.
ACF referred the case to the Public Prosecution, but ultimately the latter held that the collected evidence did not constitute sufficient grounds for initiating investigative proceedings.