The government has given the green light to finance the modernisation of the Voluyak-Dragoman railway section with 169m euros. Lv. of European funds. BGN 91.9 million will go to a consortium between the VDH associated with Peevski and the Spanish “Lanthania”. The contract must be concluded quickly before the European Commission approves the project. Minister Sabev promised a probe.
“The Ministry of Transport and Communications and the National Railway Infrastructure Company signed a contract for financing the project “Modernization of the railway line Sofia – Dragoman – Serbian border, railway section Voluyak – Dragoman – phase 1”. The financial assistance granted amounts to EUR 166.2 million. BGN to be provided by OPTTI 2014-2020″ – reads the government announcement of May 13 this year.
The railway section Voluyak – Dragoman is divided into two lots: Voluyak – Petarch and Petarch – Dragoman. For the contractor of the lot Voluyak – Petarch for 91.99 million. Lv. the consortium “Vistra” DZZD was selected, in which 60% are the company VDH and the remaining 40 of the Spanish “Lanthana”.
VDH is the name of the former “Vodstroy-98”, associated with Delyan Peevski, but formally owned by Ivan Mirinski. In 2016, Vodstroy-98 was acquired by Varna businessman Veliko Zhelev.
Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov indirectly pointed out Zhelev as a participant in the scheme to drain millions of inhouse distributed under the Avtomagistrali EAD procedure. However, his words did not lead to Zhelev being held accountable in any form.
This is not the only project with European funding won by VDH. With European funds, the company had to build the tram route to Knyazhevo, but the project was delayed and Sofia Municipality lost BGN 12 million. EU funding because of a flawed tender.
Lanthania is a Spanish company that inherits the bankrupt Spanish construction company Isolux. It is not clear what its capabilities are after the bankruptcy, but in Bulgaria it also participates in another project for railway construction in consortium with Geostroy for the modernization of the section Plovdiv – Krumovo and Plovdiv – Skutare against 132,520,700 BRRD sources in the industry claim that Lanthania actually sells only references for the inclusion of a participant from abroad.
Minister Sabev: We will make a check
Approached for comment, Transport Minister Nikolay Sabev said he would appoint a probe into the selection of the contractor associated with Peevski. The problems with legacy contracts for railway construction and their late implementation are a big headache for the new administration. A few weeks ago, Sabev announced that he had handed over to the Ministry of Interior the files with data on misuse of European funds, as well as false participation in tenders for the construction of railway infrastructure.
For bTV Sabev quoted the case of a consortium that included a Spanish company that filed for bankruptcy months earlier. A check of the BRRD found that this is the project for the rehabilitation of the Kostenets – Septemvri section, which is the largest project with 380m euros. won by DZZD “Kostenets-Septemvri 2018”.
The leading company is the Bulgarian “Trans Logistics“, which seems to be a mailbox with one insured person and has no experience in railway construction. But the other two foreign partners also stand very doubtful as executors of such a complex and expensive project.
An investigation by Bivol and Rise Romania found that the Romanian partner Arcada Company has been charged by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office in Kovesi with embezzlement in the construction of a railway line with EU funding. Spanish partner in the alliance Contratas Iglesias went bankrupt in 2019 just a few months after winning the project, according to a check in the Spanish Trade Register.
Massive presence of Myrinski in the railway projects
In the railway infrastructure projects, the presence of VDH and companies related to Ivan Mirinski (respectively Delyan Peevski) is also remarkable. With its participation in DZZD and directly in 3 projects, the company should receive a total of 136.3 million excluding VAT for railway construction. The BSRD has prepared a list of related projects, which probably does not fully reflect the oligarch’s penetration in this industry.
“Reconstruction of the shooting development of Zimnitsa station” for BGN 26,279,829 was won by VDH.
“Reconstruction of Nova Zagora station complex” for BGN 2,721,279 is also owned by VDH.
“Modernization of traction substations Vratsa” for 13,442,120 BGN is also VDH.
“Modernization of the railway section Elin Pelin – Kostenets” for BGN 113,609,830 has been entrusted to the consortium “Evropat” DZZD with the participation of VDH.
“Modernization of railway section Sofia – Elin Pelin” for BGN 120,000,000 was won by DZZD “Kelette AB”. According to the Capital newspaper Haskovo company AB, part of the consortium is “the new builder of Peevski”.
The situation is similar with the financing of railway construction projects. There, the main player is Eurotransproekt, a company that, according to BRRD sources in the industry, works closely with Ivan Mirinski.
“Preparation of the project Modernization of the railway line Radomir – Gyueshevo – Border” for BGN 13,285,000 was given to the consortium “Eurotransproekt – Transgeo” DZZD.
“Technical assistance for the preparation of the project “Modernization of the railway section Mezdra-Medkovets” for BGN 9,500,000. is of the union DZZD MM 2020 connected with “Eurotransproekt”
“Technical assistance for the preparation of the project “Modernization of the railway section Dragoman – border with the Republic of Serbia” for BGN 4,730,335 is of the association DZZD ETP2 related to “Evtrotransproekt”.
“Technical assistance for the preparation of the project “Doubling of sections of the railway line Plovdiv – Svilengrad – border with the Republic of Turkey” for BGN 14,914,000 is also of the ETP 2 alliance related to Eurotransproekt.
Should we pay Peevski quickly before the European Commission approves?
Regardless of the results of the probe, appointed by Minister Sabev, it is not clear how the conclusion of a contract with the already selected contractor “Vistra” DZZD can be prevented, moreover, before the project is approved by the European Commission.
This haste is also explicitly mentioned in the government announcement.
“A decision of the Council of Ministers from the beginning of this week gives the green light to the Managing Authority of the operational program to conclude the contract before the approval of the project by the European Commission, which is expected by the middle of the year. The aim is the selected contractors of the two lots – Voluyak-Petarch and Petarch-Dragoman, to start the construction in a timely manner, which should be completed by the end of 2023.”
It remains to be seen whether the project will receive approval from the European Commission in the presence of data on connectivity with the sanctioned oligarch Peevski.
If the payment passes now and the EC does not approve the project, the Peevski/Mirinski tandem will eventually absorb some 100 million from the national budget. Whether something will be built against them and when it will become clear only after years.
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