INVESTIGATION SHOWS THAT FIRE IS OFTEN USED AS TOOL FOR EXTORTION
The ‘tease’ between the young and prosperous man Delyan Peevski and the Company Glorient Investment BG OOD (“Glorient”) has entered a new stage. After becoming a major shareholder at Technomarket Bulgaria AD (the Company managing the business of shops with the brand name Technomarket – called hereinafter only Technomarket), Peevski refused to pay rent to the owner Glorient for the real estate properties where the shops of the Technomarket chain are housed. The businessman and MP, acting through his trade representatives and agents, declared that actually these real estates belong to Technomarket and requested that the Court should declare void the transactions through which in 2006 K & K Electronics EAD (former sole owner of the capital of Technomarket) sold the real estates to Glorient. A new element appeared in the procedural saga on the topic. Currently it refers only to the storage area at 361 Tsarigradsko chaussee boulevard, but it is likely that soon it would become a part of all cases concerning real estate properties subject to litigation between the two legal actors. The lawyers of Technomarket demand also that the contract for rent of a warehouse of 21 000 m2 total built-up area should be declared void and that respectively Glorient should return the payment amounting to over 1 million Euro for the above mentioned storage area at Tsarigradsko chaussee boulevard. On July 20, 2016 Sofia City Court (SCC) admitted a security of a future claim by Technomarket against Glorient. By this act in practice SCC have stopped the enforcement proceedings against Technomarket for the overdue rental payments for the storage area.
Some weeks ago from Glorient, where the international fund East Balkan Properties is an investor holding a share of 40%, it was announced openly that an attempt was being made for stealing of their property. East Balkan Properties execute custody of assets of various financial institutions such as BNY MELLON, BNP PARIBAS, DEUTSCHE BANK and CITIBANK. In 2006 Glorient purchased 13 sites from K & K Electronics EAD (К & К). Today, however, Technomarket has refused to leave 14 sites, including even such that have not been purchased from К & К – the shops in Sevlievo, Kardzhali and Pazardzhik. Peevski’s company claims that the 2006 contract was fictitious and no actual payments were made under it. The contract in question was drafted and approved by a law firm in London. After signing the contract Glorient received bank credits against securities on the purchased real estate properties. These fact throw additional doubt on Peevski’s allegation. Even if we assume that it was credible (still it has to be substantiated somehow), there is still no explanation why his Company refuses to pay Glorient rent for sites it has acquired from a third party (and not from Technomarket). There is another ‘minute’ detail. At an earlier stage, in relation to the shops in Burgas, Sandanski and Blagoevgrad, annexes were signed by Technomarket for preliminary termination of the rental contracts. For whatever reason, the store chain agreed to empty the premises prior to expiry of the rental contract. But that was before Peevski took over as a shareholder there. Now the situation has changed – they are neither paying, nor emptying the premises.
On October 17, 2014 the company Е. Miroglio EAD (“Miroglio”) in the form of a transfer of a receivable (the so-called “cession”), received a share from Technomarket. The fact was used that Miroglio had debts payable on demand to Corporate Trade Bank, while on the other hand Technomarket were debtors of the same bank. In practice Miroglio, who had over 90 million leva deposits at CTB (Edoardo Miroglio – as a physical person – about 25 million BGN, as Е. Miroglio EAD – about 66 million BGN and as Е. Miroglio Finance SA – 0.7 million BGN), received a share of the debt of Technomarket to CTB amounting to 8 700 000 Euro. On the grounds of this obligation the Italian industrialist acquired 50 % of the chain for black and white home appliances. On behalf of Е. Miroglio EAD the cession was signed by Gaetano Rimini, on behalf of Technomarket the contract was signed by Evgenii Galabov and Tsvetan Fidanski.
Edoardo Miroglio, however, seems to be the weak link in Technomarket. Levers, mainly of legal nature, for pressurizing him, are not missing. He turns out to be a regular client of the Italian Financial police. The first disturbing news about him appeared officially in Bulgaria in the distant 2008. Then the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency announced that his machinery worth over 3 million Euro was detained in Italy. The machinery was to be installed in his workshops in Bulgaria. The telegraph agency quoted the Italian newspaper Giornale di Vicenza. The technical equipment was detained on the grounds of an order for preventive confiscation, based on the hypothesis that it was intended to commit a fraud. The action in question was a part of the court war between the giant Miroglio and extraordinary commissionaire Paolo Chacari. The latter was delegated authority from the Ministry of Industry and the Court of Vicenza to govern the Raumer group, which had declared insolvency. According to the Italian Prosecutorial office, as far back as in 2002 the group started to accrue debts, which in 2007 exceeded 150 million Euro. An investigation was launched against Raumer for purposeful bankruptcy and faking of company data. Investigations were conducted against the founder of the group, Pino Raumer, and the family management of the textile group Miroglio comprising Edoardo Miroglio, his uncle Carlo and cousin Geuzeppe, wrote Giornale di Vicenza.
In 2005 Raumer Italy, transferred to Raumer Bulgaria Trade OOD its commercial activities and its brand. In Bulgaria the company was registered in 2004 by Miroglio. Until April 2008 it existed as Raumer Bulgaria Trade, and after that it was renamed to Е. Miroglio OOD.
In the opinion of Italian investigators, Edoardo Miroglio profited from the difficulties experienced by Raumer and bought out its activities at a very low price through company rentals, saving 12,5 million Euro at the expense of the creditors of the insolvent company. The investigators are convinced that the machines for textile dyeing that were confiscated by the financial police, were to be transferred to Bulgaria without paying the respective amounts due. About a year later Miroglio reached an agreement with the Court in Italy and returned 7,4 million Euro. This act was interpreted as an indirect acknowledgement that there had been irregularities. Consequently, they think that embezzlements with Raumer assets, including assets in Bulgaria, reach 42,5 million Euro. These are the allegations made in the Italian press.
In Bulgaria, Edoardo Miroglio has left the solid impression of doing business in the Italian manner. He became a part of the town folklore of Sliven, along with synthetic drugs, pimps and prostitutes in the town famous for its 100 voivodes (leaders). The Sicilian Gaetano Rimini, who worked for Miroglio, had also a special place in local gossip. Some well-informed sources claimed he was the guy of the Mafia in the team of the industrialist. His unruly and arrogant disposition, and ‘Italian-style” driving strengthened the perception that not everything with him was fully OK. By official data Miroglio is the biggest Italian investor in Bulgaria. The company owns several textile factories in Sliven, Yambol and Svishtov, the Interpred building in Sofia and PARK CENTRAL HOTEL in Sliven.
Before nearly 3 years Miroglio was a subject of investigation as an alleged participant in an insurance fraud in our country. In an interview for Trud newspaper he says that he had brought to Sliven another investor in ready-made clothes, but he suffered from a big fire in his workshop. “I believe that the insurance company will indemnify him and he will renew his investment“ – announced Edoardo Miroglio briefly. In fact the name of the Company, whose workshops caught fire, is Textile – group Iztok EOOD. It is owned by Hera Holding und Handel, a Swiss offshore company managed by a Luigi Mameli. According to better-informed sources, some notorious Italian industrialists stand behind this offshore company. The persons in question were awarded a public procurement contract to the amount of Euro 12 million for sewing clothes for the army and carabineri. The sine qua non condition was that clothes should be sewn in Europe. The industrialists declared that they would be sewn in Bulgaria and Rumania, but they were sewn in China. This did not pass unnoticed and they lost the right of payment.
On 14 October 2013 year Her Holding und Handel changed the address of Textile – group Iztok EOOD from the administrative building of Е. Miroglio EAD to the industrial zone of Sliven. Actually the Swiss appeared in Sliven in late 2013. In March 2014 the workshops went up in flames. People close to the Company claim they were insured for Euro 10 million. Naturally, a pretrial proceeding was launched on the case. There is a suspicious resemblance of circumstances with a premeditated arson and a possible insurance fraud. The forensic experts have established gas and diesel fractions in the burnt down premises. However, to date, according to well-informed sources, the insurance for the burnt workshops has been paid, and there is no legal case for premeditated arson. This colorful story, however, is without doubt an efficient lever allowing a third person, with serious positions at the prosecutor’s office, to exercise pressure.
The manner in which wastes generated at Miroglio’s dyeing factory situated at the outskirts of Yambol are stored and processed has also raised suspicions. This is a fact hiding one of the weaknesses of the Italian factory-owner.
The moment Miroglio laid his hands on assets of Technomarket and Dunarit, his path of life changed. Abruptly, at that! Sources from Security sector testify about threats and an unsuccessful assault attempt (most likely for intimidation), against Miroglio. The Italian had to carry out a number of meetings with domestic and foreign services. The situation truly escalated in November last year. At that time Miroglio barely escaped death in an accident on Trakia motorway. The accident took place near Karnobat. Two women who were traveling with Miroglio died in the accident – a Bulgarian and a Rumanian. The car accident took place in broad daylight and nice weather, it was not provoked by an external cause. The vehicle, a BMW GT, simply went off the road. One of the stories is that the driver – another Italian – fell asleep behind the wheel. Falling asleep at 12 hours at noon, however, sounds a bit unrealistic. Or at least not without somebody’s interference. Exactly such interference has been suspected in that car accident. Miroglio said to his own people that he did not remember anything prior to the accident, he awoke when the car went off the road. Similar were the memories, or rather their absence, of his fellow-countryman, who was at the wheel. It were only the safety belts that saved the Italians. Yet the women at the back were not that lucky. It has been suspected that people driving in Miroglio’s car were somehow exposed to some gas and got intoxicated. Shortly after the accidents the Technomarket shares of the Italian fell in Peevski’s hands. In May this year Miroglio transferred also his assets in Dunarit AD to an offshore company. He had signed cessions with Dunarit AD for transfer of receivables amounting to 22 178 000 Euro, 1 774 724,39 USD and 400 000 BGN. All those were transferred to Viafot Investment Bulgaria EOOD, which is owned by the offshore company Viafot Ltd. registered on the British Virgin Islands.
Still another fact from the Technomarket – Glorient saga serves as evidence that the gloves are off. The company Magnum D made steps to acquire two of the sites owned by Glorient, which used to house Technomarket shops. One of those is located in Sofia quarter of Bozhurishte, the other is in Blagoevgrad. Actually, Magnum D is owned by Delyan Dimitrov. The company owns the chain TechMart for black and white home appliances. On 28 January this year, shortly after TechMart signed a preliminary contract with Glorient for purchase of the site in Blagoevgrad, their warehouses in Suhodolska Street in Sofia caught fire. Eight fire-fighting vehicles and fire-fighters, a ladder and an ambulance were immediately sent on the spot. Technical appliances amounting to nearly 6 million BGN were destroyed in the firestorm. The goods, of course, were not insured. After the scandal between Technomarket and Glorient burst, a publication was made by Blitz agency claiming that police suspect that the fire in question was premeditated, which is otherwise obvious from the pictures taken at the time. According to the media, which are close to Peevski, the purpose of the fire was to cover the tracks of fictitious goods to the amount of BGN 300 000. To burn BGN 6 million worth of goods in order to cover up for BGN 300 000 worth of goods, sounds illogical, to say the least. It is a strange coincidence how anybody who in some way stands against the business interests of Peevski is overtaken either by a domestic, a transport, or an industrial accident.
However, the fire is an explicit sign that the rules and methods of the game have changed and the gloves are off. It has become a game of power. These have been only the first moves of the parties to the conflict, but they have made it clear that it will not be short of aggression. Most likely in future the development of this case will twist and turn between court rulings and 1990-ies force-style actions, typical of the early period of transition to democracy.