Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

THE GABON AFFAIR EMERGED FROM ARCHIVES FOR A WHILE

Losses incurred by the state company Bulgargeomin amount to almost USD2MN and BGL35MN. That was established by two State Financial Control officials, who have audited the company's activities for the period July 17,1997 - April 17, 2000.
According to the auditor's report the main and only originator of the damage is Ivan Hristov, dipl. eng., who was the company's executive director for that period. As a result from his management the company's losses amount to BGL13.904MN at the end of 1997, in 1998 - BGL6.174MN, in 1999 - BGL4.338MN, and at the end of 1Q of 2000 - BGL996000. Initially auditors have studied thoroughly the business relations between Bulgargeomin and the companies of the Jordan-national Rami Ouais. They have also audited Bulgargeomin's partnership in joint ventures abroad. Total shares in these joint ventures amount to BGL4.496MN. As it proved, however, these turned out to be 'dead' assets, since these companies are either non-operative or in a process of liquidation. This is the case with Bulgargeomin's daughter company in Kazakhstan, with the Bulgarian - Tunisian company Somif, with the Bulgarian - Romanian company Danube, with the Bulgarian - Cyprus off-shore Bulsite Company (where Bulgargeomin's partner is again the Jordan-national Rami Ouais), with the joint stock company Mogolbolagrgeo. An investment amounting to USD4,973,317 made by Bulgargeomin in the period 1982 - 1985 to a mining company in Nicaragua is completely depreciated. As of March 31, 2000 the amount is referred to Current Expenses and its Balance Sheet value is BGL1029.
Auditors were forced to open the file of the famous Gabon affair, which took place in the distant 1989, and thanks to which Bulgargeomin acquired a ZUNK-debt of DEM21MN to the already bankrupt BALKANBANK. Auditors had to reply certain questions addressed officially in writing by the Specialised Inspection Office on March 31, 2000. From the Inspection Office were interested in receiving additional information on the civil lawcases which Bulgargemin initiated in 1993 against BALKANBANK for the guarantees which the latter has issued to Bulgargeomin for the execution of totally fake contracts, signed twelve years before. The players in this dark affair, which started long ago with the seemingly noble idea of Bulgargeomin obtaining a timber region in Gabon, are the owners of the German company MAS, famous for its misty affairs, Ivan Mironov, BALKANBANK's former executive director (who has already left the country) and a number of other personalities, which still participate in Bulgarian political life.
Current audit of Bulgargeomin, however, was unable in finding out new facts on the old Gabon affair and assisting in any way the freezed lawcase against the former banker Ivan Mironov. Auditors have noted that Bulgargeomin has no documentation related to the reshaping of the company's debt to BALKANBANK with ZUNKS. Even the information of the BNB Bank Supervision inspection on this case was missing. Which means that the Gabon affair will most probably be returned to the archives, this time perhaps forever.

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