Bulgaria: EVN privatization case – former ministers acquitted

, SEE Energy News

Former ministers in Boyko Borissov’s first cabinet: Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov and Minister of Economy Traicho Traikov and businessman Ivo Prokopiev were acquitted by the Specialized Criminal Court in a trial for the privatization of a 33 % minority stake in the EVN electricity distribution company. The defendants were charged with causing the Exchequer detriment through the underpriced sale in May-June 2011 of a 33 % residual state-owned minority shareholding in the EVN electricity distribution company. The share sale was handled by Prokopiev’s Bulbrokers firm, which appraised the block and acted as an intermediary for both the seller (the Privatization Agency) and the buyer (EVN Austria). Also acquitted were the other three defendants – Radoslav Rachev, Lyubomir Evstatiev and Peter Vassilev from the Bulbrokers firm.

Traikov was charged with willful mismanagement. Djankov was 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 in order to give the investment intermediary an undue benefit of about 650,000 euros. Bulbrokers owner Prokopiev was charged with acting as Djankov’s accomplice in committing the malfeasance in connection with the privatization sale. According to the indictment, Bulbrokers acted as an agent for both the seller and the buyer and appraised the EVN stake at some 820 euros per share, far below the price that it could fetch. The court’s ruling is not final and the prosecution will protest it, supervising prosecutor Emil Petrov said.