Bulgaria’s deputy chief prosecutor files suit against boss for illegal wiretapping and abuse of office

Bulgaria’s deputy chief prosecutor files suit against boss for illegal wiretapping and abuse of office
Sarafov referred Geshev (pictured) to the Supreme Judicial Council for three alleged crimes. / bne IntelliNews
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia May 16, 2023

Borislav Sarafov, the head of Bulgaria’s national investigation office, has filed a claim against his boss, Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, over alleged illegal wiretapping and abuse of office, state news agency BTA reported on May 16.

The move came a day after Sarafov said he was afraid of his life because he knows Geshev’s methods. The police secured state protection for him later the same day.

On May 15, Geshev said he was under pressure to resign and accused former premier Boyko Borissov of sending him warnings to remain silent and to step down. Geshev also said Sarafov had been forced to turn against him.

Borissov denied Geshev’s allegations, while Sarafov said his life was under threat.

On May 16, Sarafov referred Geshev to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for three alleged crimes. Sarafov said that on May 15, an hour before giving a press conference, Geshev has summoned all his deputies in his office and said he had conversations with politicians and magistrates over the weekend which he had recorded.

“After this introduction and the clarification that he has personally made over 150 recordings of conversations with politicians, magistrates and members of the SJC, Mr Geshev played a recording from his phone,” Sarafov said, as quoted by Sega news outlet.

He added that a recording with the voice of Yordan Stoev, a member of the SJC, started. Sarafov claims that after 4-5 minutes he had refused to listen to these recordings and left Geshev’s office.

Sarafov claims that, by recording politicians and magistrates, Geshev has breached the constitution and the criminal code as he has used special technical equipment without authorisation.

The second claim against Geshev is that he is using a state villa in the Borovets mountain resort as his own property since 2021. Sarafov also says that Geshev is using the villa’s personnel as his own servants. This, according to Geshev’s former right hand, is abuse of office and also harms the prestige of the judiciary.

The third case included in Sarafov’s claim is the investigation dubbed Barcelonagate, which involved several people close to the former prime minister. So far, Geshev has been claiming that an investigation of the money laundering scandal is ongoing but he had not provided any information on its development.

The information about possible money laundering involving people linked to Borissov was first revealed back in 2020 by Spanish El Periodico and confirmed at the time by the police. In February 2022, the government said it had received new evidence indicating that €5mn was laundered in the scandal.

Sarafov claims that Geshev has publicly admitted he is intervening in this investigation, which is still ongoing, and its completion has been deliberatly delayed for years.

The open war between Geshev and Sarafov started a week after a May 1 explosion next to the car of the chief prosecutor. Initially, Sarafov claimed that Geshev’s family was travelling with him at the time and that the explosion was very professional and the chief prosecutor had survived by chance.

However, after revelations by caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev that Geshev’s family was not in the car, Sarafov made a U-turn and said he had been misled by his boss. Then Sarafov started accusing Geshev of intervening in the investigation and said that a possible staged attack is among the versions that are being investigated.

Meanwhile, on May 16 Change Continues-Democratic Bulgaria coalition said in a statement that it will summon Geshev and Sarafov to parliament to demand an explanation of all revelations they have made over the past days. Sarafov’s deputy, Yassen Todorov, will also be summoned as he was accused by his boss of following orders by Geshev during the investigation of the explosion.

The coalition has been pushing for in-depth reform of the judiciary for years but up to now cannot find enough support in parliament.