A Bulgarian commission has demanded the confiscation of assets and properties owned by two of the country's most notorious mobsters.
By Svetla Dimitrova for Southeast European Times in Sofia -- 21/08/12
Plamen Galev (right) and Angel Hristov stand in front of their election headquarters in Dupnitsa in July 2009. [Reuters]
Bulgaria's Commission for Establishing of Property Acquired from Criminal Activity has asked the district court in the town of Kyustendil to approve the seizure of assets worth more than 2 million euros from two fugitives convicted of being notorious mobsters.
In its claim on Friday (August 17th), the Sofia-based commission listed luxury cars, company shares, real estates and money deposits owned by Plamen Galev and Angel Hristov, their spouses and firms under their control.
The two, known as the Galevi brothers, have no family relationship.
The nine luxury vehicles cited by the commission include four Mercedes and five Audis, some of them armoured or made to order. The car with the highest market value, as set by independent experts, is an Audi A8 at nearly 117,000 euros.
Property on the list includes a residential compound in Resilovo that stretches nearly 11,000 square metres and includes an indoor swimming pool, a gym and two houses.
The claim also calls for the confiscation of shares of 11 companies co-owned by Galev, of a dozen others in which Hristov is named as a partner, as well as of three off-shore companies, two of them registered on the Seychelles and the other on the British Virgin Islands.
The assets sought by the Commission total more than 2.2 million euros, with the sum split almost equally between the two crime bosses, who operating in the town of Dupnitsa, 60km south of Sofia.
In July 2011, the Sofia Appellate Court convicted the Galevi brothers of participating in an organised criminal group that engaged in racketeering and extortion. Dismissing an earlier ruling by the Kyustendil district court, under which the two were acquitted on all charges, it sentenced them to a total of 12 years in prison.
Judges also ruled that one-third of Galev's properties and assets and a quarter of those belonging to Hristov should be confiscated by the state and that the two should pay a fine of about 5,000 euros and 3,500 euros, respectively.
On May 3rd, the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the lower-instance court's guilty verdicts against the two, but reduced the jail term by two years.
Several days later, the authorities found that the two had fled and issued a nationwide search warrant. Eventually, the two were added to Interpol's listed of most wanted. They remain at large.
In December 2008, the two former policemen-turned-businessmen were arrested following spectacular police raids of their homes and businesses in the town of Dupnitsa, as well as in Sofia and the nearby town of Pernik.
Both then registered as majority candidates in the July 2009 parliamentary elections and were released from jail to campaign. Neither of them got enough votes to win a parliamentary seat, and the immunity from prosecution that goes with it. Thus, the Galevi brothers ended up back in jail again after the elections.
In its latest report on Bulgaria's progress in the area of justice and home affairs, which was issued last month, the European Commission (EC) cited the case against Galev and Hristov as one of the "few important organised crime cases [that] have received sentences."