The Spanish company that owns Borislava Yovcheva’s luxury boutique in Barcelona had been bought in March 2020 by Rositsa Velkova, a former expert of Bulgaria’s ruling party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) involved in the Hochegger scandal. Immediately afterwards, she sold the notorious asset to the wife of Svetoslav Spassov, who is a former adviser to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and a diplomat living in Vienna, also known as Borisov’s personal fortuneteller. But Spassov claims that he and his wife separated months before the deal and he does not even know about it.
The company Ema BGS SL owned the luxury Ermanno Scervino boutique in Barcelona, whose manager was Borislava Yovcheva,a former “Miss Bikini Bulgaria”. The store was emptied and closed after the Spanish El Periodico reported on February 20, 2020, on an investigation by the Catalan police into money laundering involving the Bulgarian Prime Minister.
Ema BGS has also sparked investigators’ interest because of the questionable origin of its founding capital and working capital. According to them, the amount invested in Ema BGS SL is in the vicinity of EUR 2.3 million. Former model Borislava Yovcheva is not listed as an administrator of the company but has exercised “management and control functions” in the store, the Spanish investigators say.
Three weeks after the closure of the Scervino boutique, Ema BGS became the property of a Bulgarian company, documents from the Spanish Trade Register show.
The transfer of ownership and the appointment of a new manager of Ema BGS took place on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The company’s capital of EUR 1,753,010 did not change but was acquired by the Bulgarian company VBG Energy, which at the time of the transfer was owned by Rositsa Velkova.
The very next day, Friday, March 13, Rositsa Velkova sold VBG Energy to Dessislava Spassova. She is the wife of Svetoslav Spassov, known as a close adviser to Boyko Borisov and even as his personal fortuneteller. Rositsa Velkova, however, is still listed as a representative of VBG in the Spanish register.
The urgency of the sale and the lack of business logic behind this trade operation are obvious. VBG trades electricity and gas, while Ema BGS SL trades high-end fashion. VGB’s financial statements for 2019 show that its assets and operating profits are way more modest than the capital and turnover of Ema BGS SL.
The cost of the transfer of ownership is unclear. Ema BGS SL has accumulated impressive liabilities of over EUR 1.2 million in 2015 and 2016. After that, the company has not published financial statements.
The address of Ema BGS SL remains the same as the one of the already closed boutique – 104, Paseo Gracia, Barcelona.
Who is who in the boutique deal
Dessislava Spassova is a lawyer and expert in nuclear law at the International Atomic Energy Agency. BIRD reached her by phone and she told us that she had been separated from Svetoslav Spassov since the beginning of 2020. Attorney Spassova declined to comment on-the-record on the VBG Energy deal and the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of Ema BGS, which took place before she became the owner of the Bulgarian company.
Svetoslav Spassov is a well-known activist of the party National Movement for Stability and Progress (NMSP) of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the deposed Tsar and former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. Spassov served two terms as an NMSP MP. As a young politician, he led the Liberal Youth Assembly together with the young Delyan Peevski, who is now a media mogul and lawmaker and one of the most controversial figures in Bulgaria. Old interviews with Spassov reveal his positive opinion of Peevski and Ahmed Dogan, the Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Peevski’s party Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, the party largely representing the Turkish minority in Bulgaria.
Spassov’s most memorable statement from this period is that there are cemeteries and lakes with negative energy underneath the building of the Bulgarian National Assembly in Sofia, which hindered the legislative process.
At the end of the rule of the Three-Party Coalition, Spassov briefly joined the NMSP breakaway party Bulgarian New Democracy (BND) and then became the rising star of GERB and was appointed an adviser to Boyko Borisov at the beginning of his first term. As a member of the political cabinet, he was in charge of the Military-Industrial Complex as Secretary of the Interdepartmental Council for Military-Industrial Complex Affairs and Mobilization Readiness of the Bulgaria.
Svetoslav Spassov graduated with a history major from the “Bishop Konstantin Preslavski” University in the northeastern city of Shumen. He also has a degree in international economic relations from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia and a PhD in military-political sciences from the Military Academy “G. S. Rakovski”, also in Sofia. However, the media prefer to publish stories about his knowledge of the esoteric – palmistry, astrology and Feng shui. Spassov is even said to be Prime Minister Borisov ‘s personal fortuneteller .
Asked by the newspaper “19 min” about the skills of his adviser, the Prime Minister said:
In May 2010, Spassov was in the crosshairs of the Prosecutor’s Office over suspicious land swaps. This event probably caused a breakaway from the Prime Minister’s closest circle and sent him as Ambassador of Bulgaria to the Permanent Mission to the UN, OSCE, in Vienna, where he remained until mid-2019.
BIRD reached Svetoslav Spassov by phone. He confirmed that he had been separated from his wife since the end of 2019 and said he knew nothing about her deal with VBG Energy. Asked if he was still close to Prime Minister Borisov, Spassov said he had not seen him in years. He is currently teaching at the University of National and World Economy.
Rositsa Velkova is best known for her role in the Hochegger lobbying scandal, but also as an expert of GERB, author of part of its program. In the February 26, 2009, issue of Tema (Theme) magazine, she was described as one of the ” ideologues of Gerberism,” the site Offnews recalls. According to a publication in Computerworld.bg, Velkova had been the coordinator of GERB’s IT team since July 6, 2009. This team prepared the party’s strategy for information and communication technologies before the 2009 parliamentary elections.
In 2012, when the Hochegger scandal broke out again, Velkova paraded in the media and explained that she had nothing to do with GERB. These statements are refuted by videos showing her attending GERB meetings. Velkova is no longer in the focus of the media attention and currently works in consulting, judging by the registered activities of her companies “CC Government Relations” and “Facility Planning”. In her profile on LinkedIn, she introduces herself as a graduate of the University of National and World Economy and the University of Vienna and owner of VMC – Vienna Management Consulting. She participated with VMC in the already liquidated Hochegger BG as a partner with Hochegger CEE Beteiligungsholding.
Velkova joined the capital of VBG Energy in 2014 and became a partner of Emil Merdzhanov. The latter has an impressive experience with public procurement through his company “Pro Arm”. Over the years, the company has delivered fittings to various State-owned enterprises orders for over BGN 31 million show.
VBG Energy obtained a license for electricity trading from the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation on May 17, 2016. According to its new owner Dessislava Hristova (Spassova), the company also had experience in gas trading. In its strongest year, 2017, the company made social benefits contributions for two people, according to a reference in the National Social Security Institute. It posted net sales revenue of BGN 234,000 in 2017, which dropped to BGN 145,000 in 2019, and increased to BGN 224,000 in 2019.
In 2017, its strongest year, VBG Energy acquired two properties – an apartment of 87 square meters on 7 Dunav Street in downtown Sofia for BGN 207,317 and an apartment in the Black Sea resort town of Nessebar of 72 square meters for BGN 88,012. They were mortgaged in 2019 against a loan from Piraeus Bank in the amount of BGN 110,000. In June 2020, when Desislava Hristova was already VGB’s owner, the mortgage was annulled.
Velkova was not found for comment at several addresses of her companies visited by our reporter.
The fairytale life of Borislava Yovcheva
Borislava Yovcheva from the southern resort town Sandanski is a former Miss Bikini. Rumors of a romantic connection between Boyko Borisov and Borislava Yovcheva have been circulating in Bulgaria since 2012. Her brother is football player Stanko Yovchev, who made a significant career jump in the same year and became a central striker of Bulgarian Premier League football club CSKA without having the necessary skills. Sports journalists and sportsmen have testified about the connection between Borisov and Yovcheva. The frankest comment was made by the former CSKA Sports Director Dragolyub Simonovic:
There is a similar comment by sports journalist Vladimir Zarkov on Facebook:
HE claims that he does not know Borislava Yovcheva, the model. ***** Strange how she knew her brother Stanko then. And why he ordered an entire football team not to kick his brother-in-law. ****** I saw it with my own eyes on November 18, 2013. In the morning, there was a rally of GERB in Plovdiv, big, big rally. And in the afternoon Lokomotiv (a football team from Bulgaria’s second largest city of Plovdiv – editor’s note) welcomed Vitosha Bistritsa (Second League football club from Sofia in which Borisov as a registered player – editor’s note) in a rematch for the cup. Plovdiv won in the first match with 5:0, and the enlightened knew that the rematch would be a solid “two”. ******* That’s why I was surprised that HE became the first person in the world holding such a political post to play in a fixed match. And for the lottery. He entered in the second half. Then Stanko also entered. And while he was grinning, he told Aymen Belaid not to kick the new striker too hard as he was going to become his brother-in-law. “Lauta” (football field in Plovdiv – editor’s note) had an audience of 300 people and everything could be heard. ****** After the match Koko Dinev (Bulgarian businessman and sportsman – editor’s note) personally took Stanko Yovchev to Sandanski as they are both from Sandanski. That’s where HIS motorcade went! And HE is not from Sandanski. ***** Stanko’s sister is from there.
Vladimir Zarkov – sports journalist
In fact, Borisov did not deny knowing Yovcheva. Asked by journalists in Brussels on February 21 if he knew her, he replied:
“I don’t talk about personal lives. I’m not talking about this, because it’s not good for a man to start commenting on who he knows, because calamities can happen. Moreover, many people have new families, they have a completely different life.”
It became known later from an investigation by BIRD that at that time Yovcheva already had a family indeed as she had married Yordan Hristov on February 16, 2020. Hristov, himself, demonstrates a strange attitude towards this life-changing event and says that his marriage to Yovcheva was a mistake.
Borislava Yovcheva relocated to the Catalan capital in early 2013 and acquired on January 22 the company Numin Invest with a capital of EUR 3,000. Two months later, she became incredibly lucky. Wealthy Bulgarian businessman Alexander Chaushev contributed EUR 2.9 million to her company in the form of a luxury house in Barcelona, where Yovcheva moved with her child and parents.
Nearly two years later, the young lady entered the world of fashion business. The company Ema BGS SL was registered in August 2014 by Georgi Yovchev, father of Borislava Yovcheva, with a capital of EUR 3,010. He contributed another EUR 500,000 to the capital on February 10, 2015, and a new partner joined – the offshore company Palms Enterprises, which also contributed EUR 500,000. On June 16, 2015, the capital was increased by another EUR 750,000 divided between Yovchev and Palms Enterprises. Yovcheva’s father remained a majority shareholder with EUR 3,010 more than Palms. Ema BGS rented a store in the most expensive Barcelona location and opened a boutique of Italian designer Ermanno Scervino.
The Scervino brand, as well as the house in Barcelona, became popular alongside the YanevaGate recordings published by the investigative website Bivol in 2015. In them, judge Yaneva can be heard claiming that Borisov had bought a “house in Barcelona for a EUR 1.5 million” for a lady for whom he had special feelings. Yaneva does not mention the name of the lucky girl.
In fact, on June 26, 2012, Borisov shared with the LOVE Style magazine the following: “There is a young lady that is close to my heart, poor darling, if I reveal her identity, they will tear her to shreds. When I end the State job, I will marry her and take her back.” Eight years later, the Prime Minister has not made any such step.
Questions about (a lot of) money
Several money matters remain unclear in the tangled saga around the house in Barcelona.
It is a complete mystery from where Georgi Yovchev, who worked as a plumber, got EUR 875,000 for the capital increase of Ema BGS. The Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office and the National Revenue Agency were supposed to check his assets but there is no information on the outcome.
Cyprus-registered Palms Enterprises is linked to businessman Yordan Hristov and to another person close to Boyko Borisov, Ivan Sazdov, a founder of GERB. Hristov’s then-wife, Silvia Nikolova, became co-manager of Ema BGS SL together with Yovchev after Palms Enterprises contributed EUR 875,000 to Ema BGS SL
Hristov, himself, claims that the money invested by Palms Enterprises in Spain is not his but shows great knowledge of Ema BGS SL’s losses. It remains a mystery to date who actually poured into the offshore the money it had invested in Barcelona.
It is also unclear how Borislava Yovcheva and her family, who have lived very comfortably in the Catalan capital for seven years, have made this living. They resided in a house for EUR 3 million with nine bathrooms, whose taxes and upkeep are not at all low. Yovcheva had been driving a white Porsche, according to Catalan investigators. The fashion boutique business obviously could cover the needs of the family as it had not been generating income but just huge losses.
The cost of the transfer of Ema BGS SL to the Bulgarian company is unclear as are the means for the acquisition.
But it is quite obvious who benefits from it. These are the previous owners – Georgi Yovchev, Borislava Yovcheva’s father, and the offshore company Palms Enterprises, which is represented in Bulgaria by his new son-in-law, Yordan Hristov, a man almost Yovchev’s age.
Until recently, Yovchev and Palms Enterprises held shares in the capital of Ema BGS amounting to EUR 1.7 before selling them to VBG. Thus, “Miss Bikini’s” family got rid of the scandalous asset, which attracted the attention of the media in Spain and Bulgaria, and recently of the European Parliament, where questions to Prime Minister Borisov about the investigation in Barcelona were raised.
Is the fact that the company had been transferred through a chain of people associated with Borisov and his party accidental? Mathematically this could not be a coincidence but it may be possible astrologically due to the proper alignment of the planets.
Dimitar Stoyanov also contributed to this article
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