Ex Bulgarian Irrigation Head: Legal Troubles Are Youth's Fault

Domestic | February 22, 2012, Wednesday // 10:53|  views

The former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bulgaria's "Irrigation Systems" Georgi Harizanov. Photo by BGNES

I never falsified my criminal record; it is real, claims the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of "Irrigation Systems" Georgi Harizanov.

Harizanov spoke Wednesday in an interview for the largest, private Bulgarian TV channel bTV.

Georgi Harizanov was removed from the post of Chairman of the Board of Directors of Irrigation Systems late on Monday after reports by Trud daily that he was standing trial for issuing a death threat in 2008 and was also being investigated for embezzling USD 50 000 from a Sofia-based company back in 2001.

It also emerged that upon being hired at "Irrigation Systems," Harizanov presented a clean criminal record.

Last night, Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov sent to the prosecution for verification Harizanov's criminal record, called in Bulgaria "certificate for conviction."

The former Chairman told the bTV hosts that he had not informed Naydenov of the charges filed in January for theft of USD 50 000, occuring over 10 years ago, on the advice of his lawyer.

According to the attorney, the charges were absurd and would be dismissed quickly.

Harizanov stressed that his fingerprints in this case were taken in 2001 and he did not understand why the theft indictment was renewed precisely at this moment, voicing conviction that "someone cooked something against him at the Prosecutor's Office."

Regarding his suspended sentence for blackmail, dating from 2005, the ex-Chairman explained the incident occurred when he had been 19-years-old and his car was hit from behind at a traffic light. He asked the other driver to sign a note he would pay for the damages since the latter did not have insurance.

The driver later filed a blackmail claim with the Court, but at the end, the two became friends and today remember the story with some "particular feelings."

Harizanov firmly denied ever making a death threat and pointed out the civil claim had been withdrawn, all while the State had reinstated the case.

He told the following story:

In 2007, he met claimant Denitsa Tsitselkova online, in the midst of organizing a protest against taxes for motorcycles. Tsitselkova had non-stop provoked the organizers and after they looked to find out who she was, some "interesting pictures of her" emerged.

The woman then filed a complaint against Harizanov and several other people that they published the said pictures on the protest's site.

"She posted the pictures herself; this is how she makes her living. In Court she insisted that I have inflicted enormous stress on her and wanted BGN 7 000 in damages. I told the judge that she represents the oldest profession and I do not want to enter in any bargaining with her, but later apologized for any offense that she felt over my words," said Harizanov, pointing out that "everyone makes mistakes in their youth," in an attempt to explain his legal troubles.

The former Irrigation Systems Chairman further clarified that he had been working from the time he turned 19 and did not have time to complete his college degree, but nevertheless, since he was 23, he had been in charge of important tasks.

On Friday, it emerged that Georgi Harizanov had not completed his university studies, which prompted Naydenov to compare him to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

The Irrigation Systems company gained media prominence due to the debates surrounding the ownership of dams in Bulgaria.

The issue surfaced after a dam wall collapsed on February 6, causing a deadly flood in the southern Bulgarian village of Biser.

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Tags: board of directors, irrigation systems, Agriculture Ministry, Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, indictment, embezzlement, university degree, georgi harizanov, Dam, flood, biser


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