Baki Bedel and Arben Havalyov, who are considered close to the honorary leader of the MRF Ahmed Dogan, are the owners of offshore companies coming out in the global journalistic investigation The Pandora-Files. Havalev is known as the formal owner of the luxury seraglio in the village of Ribaritsa, associated with Dogan. He is currently a politician with the Brigade party. Through a secret offshore, Khavalev managed to seize the capital of the hospital in Chirpan because of a business dispute over EU funds involving the names of politicians who demanded bribes for millions. Businessman Baki Bedel has been considered one of the shadowy financiers of the MRF since the party’s inception in the 1990s.
Bedel – the financier of DPS
Nowadays, the name of Baki Bedel is mostly associated with a multimillion-dollar investment in a high-rise building on the Ring Road in Sofia. However, the Estera skyscraper has emerged just six meters from another building, which is architectural and legal absurdity. In a publication of Capital on the topic, Bedel is described as follows: “a person with experience in road and high-rise construction, in the maintenance of the street network in Sofia. He is currently building in Studentski Grad. He’s got business in logistics.”
But at the dawn of the transition, Bedel had another role. According to former MRF “number two” Osman Oktay, Baki Ibrahim Bedel has been a “financial accountant of the MRF” since the party’s establishment in the 1990s and was in the closest circle of Ahmed Dogan. “When I came to Sofia on April 1, 1990 for the Constituent Assembly of the MRF, I was presented with him as the financier of the MRF. How and where he appeared, as well as Mehmed Tefik – Dogan’s “male secretary”, is not clear to me,” Oktay recalls. “Initially, our office was on the street. Peter Schmidt in kv. Ivan Vazov in an apartment. It was there that I saw Baki Bedel for the first time.” Later, under Philip Dimitrov, DPS received its offices on Tsarigradsko shose Blvd. Alexander Stamboliyski 45A, where he is still located. In their neighborhood, Baki Bedel created a business structure closely related to the activities of the MRF, but isolated from the official finances and affairs of the party, Oktay recalls.
The scale of this business structure is unclear. The archives reveal evidence that in the 1990s Bedel was a partner with the agent of the State Security Petar Pepeleshkov in “Biomet – PB”, he was in the management of “Bulmaso” – Razgrad, “Brewery Sofia” AD, “Bul Sky Holding” AD and “Orion – Lux” AD. His companies in Sofia are registered on Tsarigradsko shose Blvd. Alexander Stamboliyski 24, near the headquarters of the MRF, which is on the opposite sidewalk. Among them is “B and B Brothers – Bulgaria”, with which Bedel won public procurement for ongoing repairs in Sofia.
In the Files, Pandora Baki Bedel appears with the company Aqualad Ltd. – borrowing its name from two superheroes in American comics. It was registered in 2013 in the British Virgin Islands with the subject of activity “trade in marine vessels and equipment”. The services of the Fidelity registrar were used for its creation. The company profile indicates the origin of funds from dividends and planned purchases and sales for 1 mln. EUR per year. Vladimir Nochev, who is the manager of the company “Estera 2018”, which builds the building of the same name in Sofia, is also named as director.
BIRD.BG contacted Bakki Bedell, who said the Aqualad Company had “no property, no activity, no money.” “It was opened and subsequently closed automatically when it was not paid,” the businessman explained.
However, a check in the Commercial Register found that from October 2014 to March 2016, Aqualad Limited was a co-owner of the company A priori 2013. Subsequently, the shares of “Aqualad” were transferred to “Bali Consulting” EOOD, which is owned by Baki Bedel himself.
Havalev – dogansaray, euro millions and assignments through offshore companies
In 2019, the Seychelles offshore Jimara Company Limited seized the shares of Chirpan Hospital to secure claims for multimillion-dollar debt from the municipality. Today, the Pandora Files reveal that this offshore company belongs to businessman and politician Arben Khavalew. He is the ultimate owner of Shermillah Properties and Gimara Company Limited founded in 2018 using the services of Ukrainian intermediaries of offshore service provider Alpha Consulting.
Khavalev became known as the owner of a super luxury hotel in the village of Ribaritsa, which was claimed to be one of the seraglio of Ahmed Dogan. The businessman denies this and claims that he has never seen the honorary leader of the MRF, and the hotel was built with savings from work in Greece and loans. In 2008, the hotel in Ribaritsa was investigated by the Parliamentary Committee on Corruption. Havalev and his partners were then investigated for VAT fraud, in which he was sentenced at first instance by the Pernik District Court to three years on probation.. However, the Court of Appeal in Sofia overturned even this symbolic verdict and returned the case to the prosecution, after which the investigation stalled.
The businessman is also famous for his photos in the company of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior Svetlozar Lazarov, revealed by the investigative site Bivol. This year he also entered politics with the Brigade party.
“The Ministry of Interior is my employee. Slavi sings to me…”
From a pre-election interview with Havalev for c. Labour It is understood that Svetlozar Lazarov and the former Minister of the Interior Mladen Marinov (fired by Boyko Borisov because of links with the MRF) were his “good employees” and on his birthday he personally sang Slavi Trifonov with Ku Ku Band, which showed him “respect and respect”.
In the same interview, Khavalev boasts that as a consultant on European projects he has attracted funding of over BGN 150 million. It is with such an unfortunate European project that its secret offshore companies appear in the Pandora Files – the Seychelles companies Shermillah Properties and Gimara Company Limited – are connected.
The story begins back in 2009, when a company associated with Arben Havalev won a public procurement under a European program for 980 thousand. Euro VAT excluded. On April 30, 2009, the Mayor of Chirpan Municipality signed a contract for consulting services with the company “Protiko il”, a company that has won public procurement for over 7 million. Today, the sole owner of the capital is Arben Khavalev himself. As of 2009, Havalev’s sister, Ylvie Imamova, was behind the company.
In April 2013, however, the municipality won funding for a project under the Rural Development Program and signed a contract for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the water supply network in three villages – Gita, Svoboda and Zetyovo. It is worth just over $17 million. BGN without VAT. The consortium “Kram Strabak EVI MSM” was selected as a contractor among 19 offers. With the largest share in the union – 69.4%, is the company “Evidans Engineering” Ltd. – Sofia, sole ownership of Stela Stoyanova. She lives with Khavalev, with whom she has a child named Antoine. In the public scanner of the bird.bg are visible over 65 public procurements in which “Evidance Engineering” participates as a contractor.
The project was implemented, but because of suspicions of abuse it was sanctioned by the SFA with a 100% correction. Sources of the bird.bg said that there were many problems with the award of the public procurement. The municipality chose the most expensive offer, which was the real cost of the activities, multiplied by three. Sources in the SFA claim that the inspections on the offers continued well beyond the statutory deadlines. It turned out that the prices offered were infinitely inflated. After the imposition of the sanction, the Municipality of Chirpan does not pay the companies controlled by Havalev who file an arbitration case and win it. But then this decision fell to the SCC.
Meanwhile, in 2018, Khavalev created the two offshore companies to which he assigned his claims claimed by the Municipality of Chirpan totaling BGN 12.3 million. At the moment, the situation with this debt is unclear. According to the mayor of Chirpan, whom the BRRD contacted for comment, the unfortunate project has led to the inclusion of the municipality in a special supervisory list of the chief commissioner of OLAF.
Havalev on the offshore companies: “You are looking for a calf under the ox. Manoil Manev asked me for $2 million. Rumen Porozhanov wanted him too.”
BRRD also contacted Havalov, who did not want to say whether he knew who was behind the offshore companies, saying: “I can’t tell you this, it’s not interesting. As a journalist, you try to pull a calf under the ox, but that’s not interesting. It’s interesting who is stealing the money right now.”. According to him, in Chirpan the problem is that “Mayor Ivaylo Kracholov does not want to pay” and the decision of the arbitration in favor of his companies has been revoked in the Supreme Court of Cassation with “political ties”.
Khavalev said that because he knew that he was a consultant of the project, MP Manoil Manev from GERB appeared to him. Manev told him “I am a member of parliament from Stara Zagora, I work with the man with the chickens, Gradas, you give some 2 million leva and we solve the problem with the mayor”
Khavalev claims that he stopped the meeting with Manev “because I am a very honest man, I just kicked him out.” Manev told him, “You won’t get your money.”
Our team contacted Manoil Manev, who confirmed that he knew Havalev and had met him. He refused to comment on the claim that he wanted a bribe from Havalev because the latter reported to the Regional Governor and the municipal council of Chirpan “he listed 100 people inside who hindered him, who wanted him.” Khavalev’s signals reached the competent authorities. “There are investigations, they are ongoing. Let them end and we will end this saga,” Manev said. He stressed that his meeting with the alleged businessman close to Ahmed Dogan was in connection with the previous local elections.
The name of the former head of the SFA Rumen Porozhanov is also involved in the saga with the water cycle of Chirpan. He had requested 1 million euros from the former mayor of Chirpan Kichka Petkova, for which Havalev had approached the prosecutor’s office.
“After Porozhanov did not receive 1 million, the GERB director of the SFA punished the municipality with a 25% correction,” says Arben Khavalev.
The SFA’s version is that the inspectors found a violation of the Public Procurement Act through the fault of the contracting authority, which has ranked first a tender that does not meet the requirements. An on-site inspection also followed, which found significant violations. Then a 100% correction was imposed on the municipality and it had to reimburse the SFA and the BGN 9,380,972 paid in advance. plus statutory interest.
According to the mayor of Chirpan Ivaylo Kracholov, the assignment of debt to offshore companies has a simple reason. The consortium implementing the project did not pay VAT. Separately, in violation of the contract, Evidans Engineering had used a subcontractor for the construction of the water cycle. They also did not pay off, but owed them serious money. According to Ivailo College, the company is moving in the direction of “insolvency”, but there are no published documents in the Commercial Register to confirm this hypothesis. The mayor said he had about half a million legal expenses to collect from “Evidans Engineering” after the case in the Supreme Court of Cassation, but they were already practically uncollectable. According to Havalyov, however, the claim that the offshore companies are his is “throwing dust in the eyes of the media. These are things from three years ago and without legal force.”
Thus, in the end, Khavalev denies that the offshore companies are his, but the facts say otherwise, the assignments are there, and the distraints of the municipal hospital show that the offshore companies are part of the plan of the newly-baked politician to fight for the euromillions of the municipality. All this plus the accusations of multimillion-dollar bribes demanded by political figures makes the case particularly suitable for investigation by Laura Kovesi’s European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Already four Bulgarian politicians in the Pandora Files
The Bulgarian politicians in the Pandora Files revealed so far are
, and now Arben Havalev joins them. In addition, the files include large financiers, lawyers, individuals associated with multimillion-dollar fraudulent schemes, but also entrepreneurs with regular business, with no visible political protections, who have registered offshore companies and have announced them to the Bulgarian authorities.
The investigation of the BIRD.BG also revealed the secret offshore companies of the owners of First Investment Bank
Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev
, who over the years have received loans worth over a billion levs from their own bank. Their offshore companies have also been used in schemes for racketeering the business with final beneficiary Delyan Peevski.
The Pandora Files contains data from 14 offshore registration and maintenance companies whose files have been leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). To study this array of nearly 12 million documents, the consortium brought together 600 journalists from around the world for a global investigation called the Pandora-Files. BIRD.BG is the Bulgarian partner in this investigation, which is the largest coordinated cooperation of investigative journalists to date.
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