PLATES FOR PRINTING OF EXCISE LABELS VANISH INTO THIN AIR
The former secretary general of the Finance Ministry Ivan Barumov was the person who signed an order for taking out the plates for printing excise labels for excisable goods at BNB's printing house. The plates were not destroyed (as they had to be) but disappeared in the nowhere. Mr. Barumov was dismissed as secretary general of the Finance Ministry on April 2, 2002 and was replaced by Tencho Popov. An inspection began by his order on April 17, 2002 to check the activities of the Finance Ministry's Securities department. It was aimed to inspect the warehouses where the printed excise labels and the plates for their printing were stored. It was found out that these plates were taken out of BNB's printing house, where most of the excise labels (about 9 billion a year) are printed, and vanished into thin air. The plates were taken out in violation of the effective orders. A letter signed by the former secretary general of the Finance Ministry Ivan Barumov demanded from the managers of BNB's priniting house to ensure conditions to truck away wooden cases, covers, packaging wastes from rolls and useless printing forms, Mr. Popov explained. He claims that on the grounds of that letter the printing forms which were stored in the warehouse of the printing house under the Finance Ministry's control, were taken out and given to Todor Lazarov from the ministry's Securities department. Mr. Popov asked explanations from everybody involved. Mr. Lazarov explained that the plates were loaded on a truck with a Pernik registration and knows nothing more about their future.In this case we have gross violations of the technological discipline and of an instruction of the Finance Ministry, regulating this kind of activities. The printing forms were not destroyed with a protocol and have not been taken out for melting afterwards, as per the requirements of that instruction, Mr. Popov pointed out.The only relief, according to him, might be that the plates that went into an unknown direction were scratched and a dissolvent was splashed on them which had rendered them practically unfit for usage. Presently we do not have any reasons to worry that these plates could be used illegally for printing excise labels, Mr. Popov noted.However, the plates could have served as samples for a handy forger and their duplicates could be now producing dozens of millions of excise labels a year, with which criminal groups could be legalizing their smuggled imports. For example, if the excise duty of a pack of Davidoff is BGN1.4, then 20,000,000 packs of cigarettes (54 TIR-trucks) with fake excise labels would result in illegal profit from unpaid excise duties, amounting to BGN28MN. On that background the BGN10MN, which is the minimum equity capital required by law for setting up a bank in Bulgaria seems really trifling. Therefore, a year of successful smuggling of cigarettes would be enough for the bosses to enter the bank business, of course through offshore companies.