Vassilev files to stall property forfeiture case
The lawsuit has been treading water for more than a year because of over 20 requests by the defendants and the banker's family and firms
17 March, 2017
Banker Tsvetan Vassilev, who is hiding from the Bulgarian judicial system in Serbia, has been hampering the forfeiture case against him at the Sofia City Court with tens of counter legal actions. Nearly a year since the Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture (CIAF) filed a suit against the banker, his family and firms to seize over BGN 2.2bn in assets, the case’s first hearing is yet to be scheduled, a look at the court’s information system shows. The case has failed to get off the ground as physical and legal persons affiliated with Vassilev have been filing various motions every month.
“The case documentation against Tsvetan Vassilev has been submitted to the court a long time ago, on 29 February 2016, but a date for the first sitting is yet to be set because of additional paperwork. There are 27 defendants on the case and each of them has the right of response once they receive the statement of claim. I would assume that some of the defendants asked for extension of the legal response period, a procedure provided under the law for especially large cases. It is normal for them to need more time to go through the case files,” explained Plamen Georgiev, head of CIAF. He added that there were other complexities surrounding the case, including having to subpoena individuals living in the British Virgin Islands, Luxembourg and other countries, further complicating the process.
“These individuals have to be served a subpoena and then allowed time to respond, which makes the whole procedure more cumbersome,” elucidated Georgiev. Meanwhile, over 20 motions to reverse the CIAF distraints on the property of Vassilev and his firms have been filed so far.
“There is a huge number of counter legal actions asking for the freezing orders on collaterals to be lifted. Fortunately, all of those have been denied by the court, which upheld all such measures as legal,” explained Georgiev. He says that the Commission has been able to distrain BGN 1.1bn in property.
“Separately, we have identified over BGN 400m in secured claims concerning various companies that have been lent funds by Vassilev or individuals affiliated with him. The companies have been notified that they do not have to return the loans to Vassilev or individuals affiliated with him. If the case is successful, this money should flow into the state coffers,” Georgiev added.