Chance bystanders: How Martin Bojanov and Velimir Atanasov, on their way to “providing legal services to a bank,” became witnesses in the case of a prosecutor

“She lifted her dress; it was a beautiful view.”

This is not an excerpt from a romance novel but from the testimony of a prosecutor in criminal case number 11728/2017 of the Sofia District Court (SDC). It could have been just a funny legal anecdote if the criminal proceedings, initiated following the prosecutor’s complaint about a road rage incident involving a young woman, had not featured testimony in his defense by two eyewitnesses from the Manastirski Livadi neighborhood who had to be there by pure chance: Martin Bojanov, The Notary, and his business partner Velimir Atanasov.

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С натискане на бутона потвърждавате, че сте запознати с Политиката ни за поверителност

Furthermore, during the proceedings, the legal team representing the young woman requested evidence that Investbank, headquartered close to the incident, had indeed received legal services from Velimir Atanasov and companies belonging to Martin Bojanov. The case also revealed specific examples of cases in which the pair collaborated with the bank. ACF is publishing these documents as we believe they represent an important line of inquiry into Bojanov’s suspected criminal activity.

Bojanov was featured in a 2021 investigation by ACF, which presented serious allegations about his ability to exert undue influence on the public prosecution and the judiciary.

The story in brief: Nikolay Solarov, currently retired, then a prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassation, filed a complaint for hooliganism and inflicting minor bodily harm against the young woman. The complaint was filed with the Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office (SDPO). Solarov, whom the witness Atanasov referred to as ‘Kolyo Solarov’ in his testimony, alleged that the woman, to quote directly from his testimony, “behaved like a gypsy slut”. According to Solarov, at 8 a.m. on 15 February 2017, he and his wife (then employed as an administrator at the Prosecutor’s Office) engaged in an argument with the woman over who has the right of way. The conflict escalated into a physical altercation, and, as a result, Solarov’s face was allegedly scratched. Solarov submitted a forensic certificate for minor injuries. Despite the injuries, he still managed to go to work, even as he was ashamed to appear before his colleagues. He claimed he took tranquilizers for several months following the incident. All of this resulted from the aggressive behavior of the “beautiful young girl in a black evening dress.” While the description is Solarov’s, ACF has chosen not to reveal the young woman’s identity.

On the day following the incident, Solarov filed a complaint with the SDPO, and his case was assigned to the unit responsible for handling cases of significant public interest. This unit is currently the subject of an audit. While Solarov’s case involves a relatively trivial incident, it seems the complainant’s official capacity was the reason why it was assigned to the unit responsible for handling cases of high public interest. Following the complaint filing, it only took a day for criminal proceedings to be initiated. This was done without the usual preliminary investigation performed in such cases, which Solarov’s report, in fact, had requested.

During the criminal investigation, two witnesses appeared who fully confirmed the prosecutor’s version of events: Martin Bojanov, The Notary, and his partner Velimir Atanasov, a former judge and then attorney. Both said they had unwittingly witnessed the incident at 8 a.m. while having coffee on the street, waiting for an appointment at the bank, a client of their consulting business.

Atanasov said he had recognized Solarov as a colleague and, later that day, had found his phone number, calling to tell him of his outrage upon witnessing the young woman’s behavior and offering to step in as a witness if needed. However, Solarov had failed to mention the eyewitness Atanasov in his complaint, whether due to the stress he had experienced during the incident or another cause.

During the trial, Bojanov and Atanasov confirmed their testimony against the young woman. The version of events provided by the defendant and her witnesses – of obscene language by the prosecutor, threats alluding to his office, and a bottle being thrown at her car – remained uncredited by the court. The woman was found guilty, issued an administrative penalty (a fine), and ordered to pay Solarov BGN 2,500 in compensation for the civil claim he had filed. Sofia City Court confirmed the verdict, and it entered into force.

In the protocol of the pre-trial proceedings, the witness, Martin Angelov Bojanov, is described as “an attorney with the Sofia Bar Association with a clean criminal record.” The defendant was represented in the case by Atty. Galya Galabova who attempted to challenge Bojanov’s credibility by requesting his criminal record and attaching media publications linking him to property fraud. However, the court rejected these moves. Ultimately, the court relied heavily on Bojanov’s and Atanasov’s testimony to find the defendant guilty.

To test the veracity of the testimony of the two witnesses who – conveniently for Prosecutor Solarov – happened to be around the Investbank headquarters at 8 a.m. on that February morning, the court granted the motion of Atty. Galabova for the disclosure of their consulting contracts with the bank. The list contained in the file includes the numbers of the cases and proceedings in which Velimir Atanasov and Martin Bojanov’s companies provided legal services to Investbank.

“This list and the criminal case initiated upon Solarov’s complaint show that to obtain the full picture of all the activities of Martin Bojanov’s group, a thorough examination should be carried out of all the legal cases in which he was involved – regardless of his procedural capacity – and all the contracts signed by him and affiliates,” said Nikolay Staykov, investigative journalist at co-founder of the ACF.

You can watch the first episode of ACF’s 2021 investigation, “List of Quick Control,” where the name of Martin Bojanov and the activities of his group of associates were first discussed publicly.