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Specialized Court rules defendants innocent in trial for EVN privatization

The trial has been described by many as a SLAPP lawsuit against publisher Ivo Prokopiev

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Traycho Traykov (left), Ivo Prokopiev (right)

The Specialized Court ruled innocent this Sunday publisher Ivo Prokopiev, former Economy Minister Traycho Traykov, former Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov and three stock brokers for the privatization of the power distribution company EVN in 2011.

According to the prosecutors’ case the six inflicted damages to the state budget for 20 million leva with the deal to sell the state’s 33% minority share of EVN. The deal was made through the stock exchange and the decision for it was the Council of Ministers’. The prosecutors claim that the six conspired to take the price of the shares down artificially.

In more specific terms, the prosecutors’ case claimed Ivo Prokopiev, as member of the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation expressed an opinion in favor of privatization. Which essentially meant he voiced a view in this forum, whose purpose is for participants to do just that.

Prokopiev in addition influenced Simeon Dyankov’s views on the matter privately as well, prosecutors argued. Traycho Traykov’s participation in the alleged crime stems from the fact that as Economy Minister the deal is closed with his signature. But, the decision is not his – it is the Council’s. The three brokers in the list of defendants work for Prokopiev in one of his companies – BlueBrokers.

The case made international headlines for its apparent lack of real case of evidence of any crime. As Ivo Prokopiev is the co-publisher of Capital Weekly and Dnevnik.bg – news outlets critical of those in power – it seemed obvious the trial is retaliatory and has no real legal merit.

Last week in a surprise move the court sped up the proceedings, Judge Velislava Angelova removed three witnesses for the defense and the trial came to closing statements. In a record 14 hour sitting, the trial came to an end on midnight last Sunday June 21. Verdicts were scheduled for the following Sunday. The prosecution asked for sentences between three and six years for Prokopiev, Dyankov and Traykov and between one and three for the other three defendants.

This Sunday Judge Velislava Angelova ruled all six innocent and argued the accusations in the prosecutor’s case lack any legal grounds. Regarding the calculations, which led them to damages of 20 million leva, she writes it is based on "wrong mathematical operations, and not any operations that call for special [mathematical] knowledge but merely adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing."

The judge describes in her decision the method which the experts to the prosecution used "a mathematical absurdity". Apparently, they used different formulas, values and methods and fused them to arrive at results better suited to their case, but the operations are nonsensical.

Regarding Traykov, Dyankov and the three brokers from BlueBrokers, the court in essence finds them innocent of any crime as the accusations against them fit their job descriptions and are not crimes. As for the prosecutors’ claims that Dyankov influenced members of the Privatization Agency, the judge said, first, no evidence of such influence was presented to the court, and second, if this is the case, no one from the agency – which carried out the privatization procedure – is neither mentioned, nor accused.

The prosecutors in the case pledged they will protest the ruling, while Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev took to Twitter to say he respects the court’s decision, and that "we lost a small battle but we are determined to win the war against corrupt politicians and oligarchs who became illegally rich."

Geshev frequently refers to Prokopiev any chance he gets as "charged" or "accused" regardless of the context.

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