Specialized Court Drops EVN Sale Case against Traikov, Djankov, Prokopiev

Sofia, March 8 (BTA) - The Specialized Criminal Court terminated the trial proceeding and returned to the prosecution office a case in connection with the sale of a minority stake in the power distributor EVN. This emerged at the end of a deliberative session which was intended to sort out possible procedural obstacles to proceeding with the case. The defence and the prosecution can appeal the court's ruling within seven days.

Former deputy prime minister and finance minister Simeon Djankov, former economy and energy minister Traicho Traikov, Bulbrokers owner Ivo Prokopiev, and Peter Vassilev, Lyubomir Evstatiev and Radoslav Rachev of Bulbrokers are charged in connection with the 2011 sale of a 33 per cent residual state-owned shareholding in EVN Electricity Distribution and EVN Electricity Supply. According to the prosecution case, the sale inflicted a 20 million leva loss on the public purse.

Traikov is charged with wilful mismanagement. Djankov is charged with malfeasance in office for ordering the executive director of the Privatization and Post-privatization Control Agency to award the appraisal of the EVN stake to Bulbrokers EAD in order to give the investment intermediary an undue benefit of about 1.3 million leva. Bulbrokers owner Prokopiev is charged with acting as Djankov's accomplice and aider in committing the malfeasance in connection with the privatization sale. Bulbrokers acted as an agent for both the seller and the buyer and appraised the EVN stake at 1,600 leva per share, far below the price that it could fetch, the indictment argues.

The Specialized Court dropped the case because it was submitted to it by a prosecutor of the Sofia City Prosecution Office who was not competent to do so and not by a prosecutor of the Specialized Prosecution Office. The Court also noted that the charges do not specify the injured party and need to be more particular about the place where the act was performed. According to the Court, there are remediable procedural breaches which have resulted in a restriction of the defendants' rights.

The Court further decided to constitute the Finance Ministry as a civil plaintiff and admitted its claim for over 20 million leva.

This is a second court and a second court panel to return the case to the prosecution service, after the Sofia City Court referred it back to the Sofia City Prosecution Office in October 2017.

Traikov's defence lawyer Ina Loulcheva told the media that part of the charges are not cognizable in the Specialized Court but in the Sofia Regional Court.

"This is a second court after the Sofia City Court that is telling the prosecution service that such a charge cannot be formulated in this way, which is why the case was returned," she commented.

Prokopiev commented that he has been charged for a public statement he made at the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation made two years before the events for which the case was instituted.

Source: Sofia