(DF) Business Mogul Vassil Bozhkov Charged on Seven Counts

January 29 (BTA) – The prosecution service has pressed charges against business mogul Vassil Bozhkov on seven counts, Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev told a news briefing on Wednesday. The news came amid a law enforcement operation in Sofia targeting the gambling regulator. Bozhkov, whose lottery operations got into the public eye recently, is accused of masterminding an organized crime group and engaging in coercion, blackmail, attempted bribery of a public official and incitement to commit malfeasance in office. He is on a nationwide wanted persons list. A European arrest warrant has been issued against him and he is actually wanted internationally, because he has left Bulgaria. Geshev said that if the supervising prosecutors collect enough evidence to warrant an indictment, Bozhkov will be brought to justice. “We will make every effort to ensure that he is brought to court,” the Prosecutor General added. He described Bozhkov as “yet another Bulgarian oligarch who has fled the country.” Geshev said: “It makes no sense to owe more than 559 million leva to the state for a year for all your lottery games – which would be enough to increase every monthly pension in Bulgaria by 100 leva – and yet to claim that you are being repressed, as will likely be the case.” He said it is about time that everyone pays for their own doings. “If there is evidence, the prosecution service will seek criminal liability from all persons, regardless of what office they hold, which political party is behind them, how many billions are behind them, what clout they have with the media, or what foreign forces are backing them.” Over 16 people have been arrested so far in connection with an investigation against the Gambling Commission, Geshev said. The Commission chair, Alexander Georgiev, has been arrested and taken into 24-hour custody. Geshev also said: “It is about time that this criminal Transition comes to an end. It is time we say: Enough!!” He was referring to the post-1989 transition to democracy and a market economy in Bulgaria, which some observers believe has not been completed yet. RY/VE //