Bulgarian prosecutors drop Barcelonagate investigation into Borissov

Bulgarian prosecutors drop Barcelonagate investigation into Borissov
Boyko Borissov allegedly money laundered €5mn through property in Barcelona. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews October 17, 2023

The Sofia City Prosecution has ended the investigation dubbed Barcelonagate into alleged moneylending by former premier Boyko Borissov, saying the evidence was inconclusive, it announced in a statement on October 17. 

At the end of May, the Sofia prosecution asked then chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev to demand the lifting of the Gerb leader’s immunity, based on evidence of money laundering related to the Barcelonagate money laundering case. Several days later, Geshev did that and subsequently provided a huge amount of evidence to parliament.

In July, when Geshev was no longer chief prosecutor and was replaced by acting prosecutor general Borislav Sarafov, Borissov gave up his immunity voluntarily. At the time, there were rumours that Borissov had given up his immunity so that the information provided to parliament would remain confidential.

Now the prosecution says it was unable to find evidence that points inconclusively to money laundering.

“After a thorough analysis and verification of all collected materials, a team of prosecutors from the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office has come to the conclusion that there is no evidence to indicate in an undoubted and categorical way  the crime for which the pre-trial proceedings were initiated, namely a crime under Art. 321 of the Criminal Code, and also for money laundering, consisting in the purchase of real estate in the Kingdom of Spain, the city of Barcelona,” the prosecution said in the statement.

It added that the testimony of witnesses does not contain allegations that Borisov personally or through an intermediary acquired the house in Barcelona in March 2013 worth nearly €3mn. It also concluded there was no strong evidence that Borissov had secured the funding for renting a luxury shop in the centre of Barcelona.

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.

The probe was then dropped, but in May this year was reactivated, coinciding with a rift between Borissov and Geshev.

According to El Periodico’s publication, police in the autonomous region of Catalonia were probing whether Borissov was linked to an international money laundering scheme. The article outlined allegations that former model Borislava Yovcheva (who has been linked to Borissov), her father and two companies received more than €5mn since 2013 from non-Spanish individuals.

According to Bulgarian investigative news portal Bivol.bg, Borissov has a child with Yovcheva and he has bought her the luxury house in Spain. These allegations were denied by the former prime minister several times.

The case concerning the luxury house in Barcelona was made public for the first time in 2015, when a leaked conversation between two judges and an unknown third individual included the claim that Borissov had bought a property in Barcelona for a girlfriend for €1.5mn.