Bulgarian Bank Probed for Money Transfers from Venezuela
Sofia, February 13 (BTA) - Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov and US Ambassador Eric Rubin Wednesday told reporters that the Bulgarian services are probing a Bulgarian bank for large transfers from Venezuela.
After meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Ambassador Rubin said the US is working in close cooperation with the EU to guarantee that the wealth of the Venezuelan people will not be stolen. The US diplomat said the participants discussed the need to stop illegal money transfers and noted the excellent cooperation between the governments of Bulgaria and the US and between their law enforcement authorities.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Mladen Marinov and State Agency for National Security (SANS) Chairman Dimiter Georgiev.
Tsatsarov said the US provided information on wire transfers from Venezuelan state-owned oil company PdVSA to Bulgarian bank accounts. Large sums were wired to those bank accounts and then funds were transferred abroad. Considerable sums are still in Bulgaria and further transfers have been banned.
The Prosecutor General said the grounds for the transfers from Bulgaria seemed suspicious as they included support for a Venezuelan sports federation or food purchase.
The bank and the accounts holder have been identified. Tsatsarov said the bank itself is not under suspicion because the accounts were opened legally by a lawyer as trust accounts. "The bank is subject to full monitoring and a comprehensive check by SANS and the Bulgarian National Bank," he said. "When we get the full picture of the accounts and the transfers, we will decide if criminal proceedings for money laundering will be launched," said Tsatsarov.
The accounts holder has several citizenships, including Bulgarian, is resident of several countries, and is not currently in Bulgaria.
There were millions of euro in the accounts, said SANS Chairman Dimiter Georgiev.
SANS is checking the whole banking system, although the information from the US partners is about a specific bank, said Tsatsarov.