Fake News Digest: Prokopiev hides behind fake news about Peevski
Indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev tried to conceal the EVN case, which the court started hearing on Thursday, with a campaign of fake news. The shady businessman from Razgrad is being tried for the sale of the state’s remaining stake in the electricity distribution company alongside two former ministers – Simeon Djankov and Traycho Traykov.
A quick look at the publications owned by the Razgrad boss shows that the media outlets in question, despite claiming to be “honest and independent”, conveniently “omitted” to inform their readers that their owner defrauded the state and the citizens of hundreds of millions of levs. At the same time, in an attempt to create media white noise to muffle the disturbing facts emerging in the case, Prokopiev and his slandering machine, led by the flagship weekly newspaper Capital, resorted to their old weapon – manipulations against the behind-the-scenes clique’s sworn enemy Delyan Peevski.
The lawmaker and publisher of Telegraph Media is the usual suspect for every single evil in the country as a result of the lies spewed against him by Prokopiev and the rest of the oligarchs-turned-publishers. The latest Capital issue features an article headlined “The Oligarchs’ Fund”, starring the Bulgarian Development Bank. The lengthy piece starts out with an attack on Peevski in its very first sentence, as is tradition, while the talking points used against him are just as old as they are false.
The first one is that the Bulgarian Development Bank has been indirectly funding companies affiliated with the publisher of Telegraph Media – “before and after the collapse of CorpBank”. This is a favourite talking point of the Fake News Factory and one that has been disproved with actual evidence numerous times. On multiple occasions documents have been published, showing that Peevski’s family repaid all its loans to CorpBank – and with real money instead of financial tricks at that. Another easily verifiable fact is that our publisher has not been involved in any court cases linked to CorpBank assets since the fraudulent banker Tsvetan Vassilev embezzled billions from the lender and fled to Belgrade.
In order to meet their daily quota of fake news against Peevski, Prokopiev’s puppets obviously took advantage of the opportunity to combine all their talking points against the lawmaker in one text. The second lie is connected to the fabricated thesis that a company linked to our publisher wants to buy the Sunny Day resort from Georgi Georgiev. This particular fake news made its debut back in October through another of the oligarchy’s websites – Frognews, owned by Ognyan Stefanov, aka agent Academician of the former State Security.
Whenever Prokopiev is in a creative slump, he apparently orders his people to enter the Commercial Register and click randomly on a firm with the purpose of attaching it to Peevski. Prokopiev’s manipulations are intended to pool wool over the eyes of society by drawing attention away from his own interests and shady deals.
The article also features the obligatory third talking point of Prokopiev’s propaganda against Peevski – about Bulgartabac – mixed with unfounded claims about interest that Peevski has in certain construction companies. According to the country’s official registries, the Telegraph Media publisher sold his 5% minority stake in the tobacco holding back in 2016 and has not had anything to do with the company since then. Following the “Peevski is to blame” scheme, the Fake News Factory often strikes against construction companies standing in the oligarchy’s way, labeling them “closely affiliated with Peevski” in a bid to manipulate society and make our publisher to be the owner of every single possible company in the country.
The purpose of the latest slandering piece against Peevski is to prevent the public from learning about the disturbing facts emerging in the EVN case. The electricity distribution company deal is among the most outrageous frauds done during Bulgaria’s transition to democracy. It even rivals former PM Ivan Kostov’s criminally conducted privatisation process, in which the Kremikovtzi plant was sold for $1, while Balkan Bulgarian Airlines was sold for the price of an apartment. During that same privatisation process, the former premier gifted his protégé Prokopiev with the mining company Kaolin AD and the Damianitza winery.
As regards EVN, it has already been established that Prokopiev incited former Deputy Prime Minister Simeon Djankov to order Bulbrokers to prepare an illegal evaluation of the state-owned shares of the company. Thus, Prokopiev, who is the owner of Bulbrokers, turned out to be the true puppeteer pulling the strings of Djankov in the shady EVN deal. The Prosecutor’s Office estimates that led to over BGN 20m in damages for the public coffers. In addition to a fine of BGN 3,000 to BGN 5,000 and stripping of their rights, Prokopiev and Djankov face up to 10 years of prison time, while Traykov – up to 12 years. The tree defendants were released from custody with the condition that they would have to regularly report to the police. Prokopiev pocketed nearly BGN 1.3m as intermediary on the deal.
Besides as part of the EVN case, the Razgrad oligarch is also being tried for money laundering (see text box). In connection with the latter case, the authorities have distrained BGN 200m in company assets owned by Prokopiev and his wife Galya Prokopieva.
Razgrad boss with money laundering charge too
Razgrad oligarch Ivo Prokopiev has been charged with money laundering. This is the second court case against him following the launch of the EVN one. The Prosecutor’s Office revealed that the investigation started out as a probe into possible “criminal breach of trust committed by staffers of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism in connection with the implementation of concession agreements for Kaolin AD, Senovo”. The case gradually morphed into a money laundering investigation “regarding the sale of shares in the capital of Kaolin AD, which had been acquired by Alfa Finance Holding AD and represented 100% of the capital of RMD Kaolin 98 AD, to Quarzwerke GmbH, a company registered in the local court of the city of Cologne, Germany on 20 December 2012”. So, Prokopiev is being held accountable by the Bulgarian judicial system in his capacity as chairperson of the Board of Directors of Alfa Finance Holding AD. The report that prompted this latest investigation was filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture, which requested the distraint of nearly BGN 200m worth of property owned by Prokopiev and his family. After the court approved the request and decided to freeze the assets of the Razgrad boss, a claim for their forfeiture as illegally acquired was filed.
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