At EU summit, Bulgaria’s Borissov fends off accusations of money laundering

Borissov speaks to journalists on 21 February 2020. [Georgi Gotev]

The Spanish newspaper elPeriodico published on Friday (21 February) an investigative report stating that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is being investigated by the Catalan police for alleged involvement in money laundering and organised crime. Borissov has denied any wrongdoing.

Speaking to journalists at the EU summit, Borissov rejected the allegations, saying that Russia and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev are behind what he called a “putsch” attempt. Radev has been gaining popular support in Bulgaria by being a strong critic of Borissov, whom he accuses of autocratic tendencies.

EURACTIV asked Borissov if he would resign and he replied that he would if even a particle of the allegations was true.

elPeriodico’s “A money-laundering investigation leads to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria” stated that the Catalan police and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office are investigating whether Borisov is linked to a plot of “international money laundering” with the final destination in Barcelona.

The facts, according to the Catalan police, “point to the existence of a criminal organisation.”

Reportedly, a villa worth €3 million and other expensive property, for a total of €5 million, has been bought in Barcelona by two companies linked to a Bulgarian former model, who is said to have had a relationship with Borissov. The Catalan police have determined that Borissov’s income could not justify such a lifestyle.

Borissov said no one, “no service, no power, no police”, has ever got in touch with him to investigate the allegations. In Bulgaria, the rumour about ‘Borissov’s villa in Barcelona’ has been circulating for a long time, but until now there had been no reports that the host authorities were investigating the issue.

The prime minister hinted that the attack came from Radev, saying that he understood “the investigations by my neighbour at work”. In Sofia, the prime minister’s office is opposite that of the president.

Borissov also hinted at a Russian connection, saying that those who helped were “sons of GRU officers working in the European Parliament”. The GRU is Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency.

He also said he was ready to make a wager with colleagues “for a few roubles” that when things are sorted out, it will become obvious that the attack came from the East.

Asked if he knew the young Bulgarian lady with the expensive property in Barcelona, he gave a very long and non-committal answer, saying that he knew many people but didn’t necessarily remember all of them.

In Bulgaria, Borissov is notorious for firing his closest collaborators at the slightest hint of involvement in corruption. As a result, it is increasingly difficult for him to find replacements for the ministers and officials he has let go.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic and Benjamin Fox]

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