The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office – which deals especially with high level corruption and organized crime – announced today it will not peruse an investigation into Tsvetan Tsvetanov and the so-called ApartmentGate scandal. Tsvetanov was PM Boyko Borisov’s most trusted Number-Two for more than a decade in GERB before he was finally forced to resign all his posts at the party last May as a result of the scandal.
In January 2019 Svobodna Evropa and the NGO Anticorruption Fund broke a story about several top officials, who had acquired luxury apartments in a high-end building of the construction company Artex for less than a third of the market price. The purchases coincided with important pieces of legislation, which GERB pushed for and passed at the time.
The bills would prove crucial for Artex in continuing one of its most ambitious projects – the over- 30-story Golden Century Building in one of Sofia’s most preferred neighborhoods – which had gotten into a legal conundrum. The new legislation arguably saved the project or at least a considerable amount of effort and recourses on the part of the builder in order to fix the issues.
The scandal eventually led to Tsvetanov’s resignation, the resignation of then-Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva and a deputy minister – who also bought apartments in the same building for a fraction of the market price. The scandal also coincided by two other similar affairs, which stemmed more or less from the first: one revealed the then-head of the Anticorruption Commission Plamen Georgiev had appropriated the roof terrace at his apartment and found inconsistencies in his tax declarations. Georgiev also lost his post and was quickly appointed Council General in Valencia, armed with an A2 Spanish certificate, which itself was a subject of much reports at the time. The other scandal unveiled a massive corruption scheme whereby certain officials secured funding from the EU structural funds to renovate or build private luxury holiday homes. On paper, the funds were used for guest houses.
The ApartmentGate and two other stories, which arguably marked 2019 in Bulgaria ended Tsvetan Tsvetanov’s and a few others’ political careers at GERB but formal action by official authorities proved underwhelming at best.
The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office had to take on the case because it formally received a ‘tip’ from the NGO BOEC. The inquiry by the prosecutors concluded no evidence was found of "Tsvetan Tsvetanov taking part in corruption or other crime."
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