Bill lifts time limit for litigation related to fraudulent privatisation
Borisov: Over BGN 30bn worth of assets have been stolen and no one has been punished for it yet
10 November, 2017
A special law is set to change the existing restrictions on the time within which legal proceedings may be brought against the people responsible for the fraudulent privatisation process conducted through worker-management enterprises (a version of staff buy-outs) and under the “one dollar” scheme. The news came after the 6 November session of the ruling coalition's political council. At the meeting, GERB leader and PM Boyko Borisov, his deputy at the helm of the party Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and the leaders of the parties comprising the United Patriots – Vice-PM Valeri Simeonov, Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov and Volen Siderov, agreed to task their respective parliamentary groups with setting up a team of lawyers that will draw up the amendments.
Earlier, on Saturday, Boyko Borisov said that over BGN 30bn worth of assets were stolen during the privatisation and no one has been punished for it so far. Following the meeting, Valeri Simeonov noted that the time limit for litigation will be changed so that all privatisation deals struck since the cabinets of Zhan Videnov and Ivan Kostov can be reviewed.
According to Simeonov, the audit will cover the privatisation contracts as well as the post-privatisation control and the buyers' actions. Under scrutiny will be the destruction or running into the ground of profitable manufacturers, including exporters. “Let us see if anyone will dare to vote against such a bill on the parliamentary floor,” he remarked.
“The time has come for someone to pay the price for the open robbery,” read a Facebook post by Volen Siderov. The inspection of the privatisation process will finally help to hold accountable at least some of the people responsible for the monumental defrauding of the Bulgarian state.
The privatisation deals with which Ivan Kostov and his circle of cronies committed a massive bloodletting of the country's economy have been well-documented. One of Kostov's staples was a scheme stealing state-owned assets through worker-management enterprises. It was thanks to these shady transactions, exploiting the privileges those enterprises enjoyed, that oligarchs such as Ivo Prokopiev and Ognyan Donev got their business empires for cents on the dollar – the former was essentially gifted the mining company Kaolin and the latter got Sopharma and became a pharmaceutical giant.
Besides fighting the fraudulent privatisation, the leaders of the ruling coalition's parties discussed the recently introduced 2018 public budget bill, which is to be voted at first reading on Wednesday and Thursday.
The coalition's political council also looked at potential regulatory changes aimed at improving tourist service and ensuring tourists' peace of mind. Other items on the meetings' agenda were proposed amendments to the Black Sea Coast Spatial Development Act, the Single Tourism Information System, and new noise level limitations for summer and winter resorts. Proposals regarding temporary commercial outlets on the beaches were also discussed. The meeting participants noted that the cabinet's four-year government plan has been progressing on schedule and that the coalition's parliamentary majority is stable.