LEGAL CASE AGAINST FORMER BULGARGAS DIRECTOR ADJOURNED
The lawsuit against Bulgargas former executive director Vassil Filipov was adjourned again because of the death of one of the experts. That impeded the financial expertise on the case from being timely prepared. The document should be available on September 9, 2004, when the next meeting of the court will be held. The witnesses in the trial are expected to be interrogated on it, too.The former head of the state-owned gas company was accused under art. 219 and art. 220 of the Criminal Code of failing to implement his official taxes and signing an unprofitable deal with the US Hardland Investment offshore company in 1997. According to the prosecutors, the sale of 250,320,000 cu m of natural gas to the offshore company has made Bulgargas lose BGN2.455MN, while the treasury has failed to receive duties amounting to BGN1.504MN. As written in the indictment, Hardland has gained a net amount of USD2.374MN.The prosecution claims that the scheme was as follows: the US company buys natural gas from Bulgargas at Negru Voda - the delivery point between Romania and Bulgaria. The fuel was afterwards resold to four Bulgarian fertilizer manufacturers: Chimco-Vratsa, Agropolychim-Devnya, Agrobiochim-Stara Zagora, and Neochim-Dimitrovgrad. However, the gas entered the country as temporary import and no customs duties or value added tax (VAT) were charged on it. Under the contracts, the fertilizer producers process the supplied gas to urea and ammonia, which Hardland exports to foreign markets. The inquiry against Vassil Filipov was initiated in September 1998, a year after 19 MPs signalled the politicians Ahmed Dogan and Dimiter Loudjev, who on their part approached the Prosecutor's Office. The prosecution then stated that Hardland had practically replaced Bulgargas as supplier of natural gas from the border with Romania to the Bulgarian fertilizer plants and was in fact a POBox company, while Bulgargas remitted the money directly to an account in a Swiss bank.