Specialized Criminal Court Proceeds with Corpbank Case

Specialized Criminal Court Proceeds with Corpbank Case

Sofia, February 27 (BTA) - The Specialized Criminal Court Tuesday proceeded with the Corpbank case, overruling objections of the defence lawyers of principal defendant Tzvetan Vassilev that their client had been irregularly summonsed.

The lawyers moved for an adjournment of the case, arguing that the Serbian authorities committed procedural breaches when they served Vassilev with the case records in response to a letter rogatory from Bulgaria and that he had not been familiarized with the civil suit in the case.

The prosecution, including the head of the Specialized Prosecution Office, insisted that the trial can commence without let or hindrance, adding that Vassilev had been duly summonsed and that he can be tried in his absence despite the fact that he is subject to pending extradition proceedings in Serbia.

After an hour-long deliberation, the court ruled that Vassilev had been duly summonsed and if he wished to appear in person he could have declared to the Serbian authorities his wish to be extradited to Bulgaria. The court found that the case can proceed in his absence, adding that there are no insurmountable obstacles in law and in fact to his attendance.

Vassilev is on trial for forming and leading a criminal group allegedly responsible for embezzling some 2,559 million leva from the bank, plus a total of 146 other criminal offences. The remaining 17 co-defendants include several former Corpbank executives, two KPMG auditors and three former senior BNB officials (two ex-deputy governors and heads of the Banking Supervision Department and a head of team), who are charged with malfeasance for failing to exercise control over Corpbank.

Vassilev left Bulgaria in 2014, before the Bulgarian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. On July 28, 2014, the Bulgarian prosecution service charged him with embezzlement, and an Interpol Red Notice was issued for him on the same day. On September 16, 2014, he surrendered to the Serbian authorities in Belgrade and was released on a recognizance not to leave. Since then, he has been fighting an extradition request from Bulgaria.

Corpbank, then Bulgaria's fourth biggest lender, suspended all operations on June 21, 2014 after a run by depositors left it illiquid. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) Governing Council withdrew Corpbank's banking licence, effective November 6, 2014. The court declared the bank bankrupt on April 22, 2015. Its insolvency date was set at June 21, 2014.

Source: Sofia