After nearly a year of investigation and a report filed by the DPS, the prosecutor’s office on Tuesday charged the former head of the investment agency Stamen Yanev for the “golden passport” scheme. The accused is currently a member of the Supervisory Board of the Bulgarian Development Bank.
Stamen Yanev will have to answer to the very strange charge of intentional negligence, but there are no specific harmful consequences, as required by law. According to the prosecutor’s office, the damage caused by Yanev is that “the public’s trust in the proper functioning and implementation of the powers of the executive authorities and creation of mistrust in the activities of the Bulgarian Investment Agency” was shaken.
According to lawyers with whom Mediapool spoke, such wording cannot be proven in court. The damage to BAI’s image cannot be measured by expertise, and if judged by this yardstick, public trust in the prosecutor’s office is also at rock bottom. The case is being handled by the National Investigation Service, which is also handling the “Nexo” case.
“The investigation in the case continues. A wide range of facts and circumstances are to be clarified, and when sufficient evidence is collected for other acts and/or for the guilt of other persons, new charges will be brought,” says the announcement of the state prosecution.
Very special attention
Already in February of last year, the prosecutor’s office showed special attention to the anonymous signal sent by the DPS about the “golden passports”. This was the scheme for granting Bulgarian citizenship to foreign investors who invested over 2 million BGN in the country.
Even then it was clear that the target of the investigators was the executive director of the Bulgarian Investment Agency, Stamen Yanev.
A year ago, Hamid Hamid said that the alert was received in his mailbox in Parliament. It contained information that more than 120 Chinese and Russian citizens had received a Bulgarian passport in a suspicious manner for an investment of over 1 million BGN. The emphasis was on the Chinese with Bulgarian passports.
Mediapool has the full list of individuals who received “golden passports” and published a detailed investigation on the subject. They are not 120, but much less – 96. Of them, 40% are Russians. The Chinese are only eight and the Americans are four. From the countries of the so-called The Middle East is another 20 people.
Attack against Yanev
In order to obtain the right of residence and start the procedure for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship, a certificate of investment intentions must first be issued by BAI. The executive director of BAI in the period 2015-2020 and 2021-22 is Stamen Yanev
Hamid explained that he sees ties between Stamen Yanev and Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. The DPS deputy asked when the report was filed: does Yanev still have a close relationship with Petkov today and whether he was from “Tsar Kiro’s entourage”.
According to unofficial information, Stamen Yanev is close to Asen Vasilev, and the yellow sites then leaked claims that the two were classmates in Haskovo, and Yanev was a lawyer for some of the finance minister’s companies.
However, not only the Bulgarian Investment Agency is involved in the passport scheme, but also DANS, banks and law firms, which had a very strong influence during the management of GERB, and before that, during the management of DPS. DANS control over this process is key, because the agency’s negative opinion in the process cannot be ignored by other institutions.
In April 2022, Stamen Yanev became an adviser to the political cabinet of the Minister of Innovation and Growth, Daniel Laurer. At the end of the third cabinet of GERB, Stamen Yanev became a member of the supervision of the state-owned Bulgarian Development Bank. Subsequently, Kiril Petkov kept him in office, and later he survived the last caretaker government.
Scheme of GERB and DPS
For several years during the management of GERB, Bulgaria stubbornly did not abolish the scheme, despite the insistence of the Euro-Atlantic partners. One of the reasons for this was precisely DPS, which defended the scheme until December of this year, when it abruptly reversed its position and announced its abolition.
Significant amendments to the Law on Bulgarian Citizenship were made during the first “Borisov” cabinet and during the “Oresharski” cabinet, when the DPS governed with the BSP.
The largest number of “golden passports” was granted in the period 2016-2020, when the second and third governments of Boyko Borisov, who worked wonderfully with the DPS, were in power.
It’s been known for a long time
The prosecutor’s office has long been aware of what the “golden passports” are about. Already in 2019, the then chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov showed a special interest in the topic and assigned a full inspection to DANS. The results of the inspection were presented in September 2019 by Tsatsarov himself to the specially created parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate the facts and allegations of criminal schemes for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship.
In front of the deputies, including those from the DPS, Tsatsarov announced that foreigners should not receive a passport only in exchange for investments, because “serious investors have other legal options to obtain citizenship.” The chief prosecutor added that if the scheme is still preserved, the control over the investments made should be strengthened. At that time, Geshev was the deputy chief prosecutor. Two years later, the DPS voted to keep the scheme, albeit with video changes.
In February last year, the DPS announced that it was contacting the prosecutor’s office for “monstrous violations” in the procedure for issuing the so-called “golden passports”. MP from DPS Hamid Hamid announced that he received an anonymous tip, which claims that more than 120 Chinese and Russian citizens, some of whom sympathize with the special services, received a Bulgarian passport in a suspicious manner for an investment of over 1 million BGN.