Банкеръ Daily


We Are Investigating Privatization with ... Voodoo Magic

SANS agents will be in a pretty pickle after, on Wednesday (February 12th), Attorney General Ivan Geshev pathetically instructed them to carry out a complete audit on ... the entire privatization process in our country. And, up to their necks in the dam scandals, they’ll start singing  with full voice the enchanting song of our long-suffering nation about BG bandits' denationalization.

However, the song certainly cannot be called a new hit in the repertoire of our "superiors". This long-sounding refrain could be heard four years ago (in 2016), when the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked the SANS to prepare a report on privatization in Bulgaria. And then, as usual,  promises were given away like gold at a gypsy wedding.

A year later, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov (former head of the Privatization Agency)harped on the same string. However, he narrowed the scope of PM’s enthusiasm to the most outrageous transactions. And after that push, the result was zero.

At the end of 2017, proposals for legal changes to eliminate the limitation period for crimes in privatization deals overpoured. In the end, they were never reached. So it became clear to everyone that although this idea is quite popular, it was virtually infeasible. Firstly - because of the expired limitation period, and secondly - due to the fact that in most cases these transactions were followed by sales to second, third or fifth parties and there was no legal formula to seize back the acquired property...

Not to mention that the very same SANS, which will toil away again to investigate, announced three years ago that an attempt was made to verify it, specifying that irregularities were also discovered, but the limitations period for these transactions had expired and the agency was hand-tied. Moreover, the then Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov quite frankly admitted that in such cases the prosecution was also powerless.

Otherwise, this type of effort has undoubtedly achieved some effect. Let us not forget that “playing the role” of Robin Hood has fired to the top of the governance quite a lot of people. But it is unlikely to see the final result – that one, imagined by the people. Even if SANS agents involve voodoo magicians in the investigation.

It would be fair, of course. Moreover, it is unlikely to be new to the people that the reason for this course of events in our country is largely due to the intertwining of many political and economic interests over the years. The fact that 31 years after the democratic changes we continue to talk about “behind-the-scene” actions means that nothing has changed.

If the inspectors really want to scrutinize the breaches of the privatization contracts, let them start with Bulgartabac. As the BANKER noted a year ago in its publication, “A Mourning Prayer for the Bulgarian Tobacco Industry”, the buyer's post-privatization obligation is to retain the company’s core business for ten years. That is - by 2021, which has not come yet !!!

And once you have demonstrated integrity , Mr. Geshev, will you check all the details of this deal ?! Or we will learn again and again, that the results of this year's anti-privatization activity, going at full steam, will be in word, not in deed.

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