BANK TRIALS GO TO THE RECORDS... AT LEAST BY NEXT AUTUMN
Three cases against bank managers were heard at court on April 22. The former executive directors of the bankrupt Slavyani Bank and TSBank, as well as the former managers of SIRBANK, entered the court.The ground floor of the Sofia Regional Court filled with ex-bankers Monday morning and looked like the lobby of a hotel playing host to a bankers' meeting. SIRBANK former executive directors Milka Stefanova and Nikolay Pavunchev nervously prepared their answers to the magistrates.The group of former bankers from TSBank, led by Lyubomir Gibinski and Nikolay Zlatev, maundered about for a while and entered hall 19 where their case was to be heard. They were followed by Viekoslav Smrekar, head of Discovery 93 - one of the scandalous companies whose debts brought TSBank's executive directors to court.Petko Kolev, head of Slavyani Bank, nervously crossed the corridors of the court trying to escape from curious photographers.All the three cases took the magistrates little time to deal with. Two of them - against TSBank and SIRBANK, were put off for the autumn. There were a lot of reasons for the magistrates' decision - the absence of defendants for reasons of health, the absence of lawyers and prosecutors, and the lack of documents. The case against Slavyani Bank was the only exception. It was postponed for July 22 - a strange decision, since the session will coincide with the summer holiday of the magistrates. It's impressive that one and the same group of lawyers appears on all bank trials in court. Ina Lulcheva committed herself to defend Ventsislav Yossifov, Petko Kolev, Georgi Kolev from the bankrupt International Investment and Development Bank (IIDB), and Emil Hursev from Mineralbank. Yancho Tronchev is the lawyer of Lyubomir Gibinski (TSBank) and Nikolay Pavunchev (SIRBABK). Alexander Novkov is defending Nikolay Zlatev (TSBank) and Vladimir Tashkov (the bankrupt Mineralbank). Slavi Dimitrov is representing Stefan Todorov from TSBank and Ivan Evlogiev from IIDB. According to some of the lawyers from the bank group, lawsuits against their clients will take lots of time - discussions in the regional court only will last one year at least. One live question discussed by the lawyers at the end of the sessions was the filing of civil claims against the former directors of bankrupt credit institutions.In principle, the court does not allow such claims to join the criminal case, since they make the whole procedure more complicated. Not to mention the fact that many of them are written illiterately. I also fail to understand why the directors of the State Receivables Agency occupy with their former colleagues instead of paying attention to the debtors. It seems that Emil Kyulev is the only decent man here. Up to now ROSEXIMBANK has filed no civil claims against the former managers of MINERALBANK and BALKANBANK which it acquired, commented one of the bankers' lawyers.The defenders of bankrupt banks' former directors claim that as time goes by, the lawsuits against their clients will attract less public interest. Besides, they are sure that in a year or two the court will take off all accusals against their clients.