Ex Partner: Just Charges against Bulgarian Media Moguls

Crime | June 12, 2012, Tuesday // 15:45|  views

Hristo Grozev accuses his former partners of illegal corporate takeover. Photo by BGNES

Charges against Bulgarian media tycoons, Lyubomir Pavlov and Ognyan Donev, are well-aligned with information submitted with the prosecutor's Office by their former partners.

The statement was made Tuesday for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, by Pavlov's and Donev's former partner in Media Group Bulgaria, Hristo Grozev.

Earlier Tuesday, Pavlov was charged with money laundering, document fraud, and preparing documents with false content, while Donev was charged only with money laundering. Both bails were set at BGN 50 000.

The businessmen publish the wide-circulating Trud and 24 Hours dailies while Pavlov is the chairman of the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria.

In the aftermath of the pressed charges, Pavlov accused Grozev of defamation and staging the entire saga and reiterated Grozev's signature under documents, sealing the deal, was authentic.

"There is total manipulation regarding these signatures, because we are talking about false documents, not false signatures. We have always insisted that we have never signed a document giving Pavlov 83% of the stakes. This is exactly what the prosecution says – that this is a matter of false facts, not signatures," the former partner said.

He firmly denied bribing a prosecutor to press charges, as Pavlov has hinted.

"This is absurd. Pavlov made this up in the last 48 hours," Grozev stressed.

On Pavlov's statements that the former partner has sent to him a negotiator, he explained that he was under the impression the latter is subject to a different probe.

"Pavlov has attempted to bribe someone working for me to steal my documents," Grozev commented.

Regarding the scandalous tape where Pavlov can be heart allegedly bragging before an unidentified person how he will use his media group to get away from prosecution, the former partner declared he was sure it is authentic because he has heart Pavlov say such things and could firmly identify his voice.

Bulgarian prosecutors were indeed approached by Grozev and Austrian Karl Habsburg.

The allegations reportedly implicate Pavlov and Donev in a money laundering scheme, thanks to which they purchased by WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria and staged an illegal corporate takeover of the newspapers.

Four days ago a scandalous taped recording, implicating Pavlov in trading in influence, was published in Presa, a newspaper from the arch enemy group.

According to the transcript Pavlov tells someone he expects to be charged soon, but does not worry about the outcome of the trial because no prosecutor would dare touch him.

The authenticity of the recording has not been verified.

Presa newspaper is published by Tosho Toshev, who is also editor-in chief of the newspaper. Tosho Toshev was former editor-in-chief of Trud daily, which is now the strongest weapon in the hands of his enemies - Pavlov and Donev.

In April last year, Bulgaria's competition watchdog gave the green light to the acquisition of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria by Ognyan Donev and Lyubomir Pavlov even though they were accused of an attempted corporate mini-coup.

The ruling cemented the decision of Bulgaria's Business Registry Agency to register 83% of the wide-circulation dailies "Trud" (Labor) and 24 Chasa (24 Hours) as property of Ognyan Donev and Lyubomir Pavlov, former chairman of the Sofia-based Municipal Bank.

The ownership of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria, which include the two wide-circulation Trud and 24 Hours newspapers, changes hands just four months after Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd acquired a majority stake in the publisher, while the remainder was held by local businessmen Lyubomir Pavlov.

The conflict between the former partners flared up in March after Hristo Grozev, who represents the Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd, controlled by him, Austrian Karl Habsburg, and German Daniel Rutz, accused their Bulgarian partners of an attempted illegal corporate take-over of the newspapers.

Bulgaria's trade registry initially blocked the allegedly illegal transfer of a 83% stake in the holding at the insistence of Grozev, but later, following the intervention of the Justice Ministry, gave it the green light.

Grozev and Rutz are also giving an emergency press conference in Sofia Tuesday.

More on Bulgaria's media war read HERE.

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Tags: National Investigative Services, fraud, charged, Karl Habsburg, Presa daily, Trud, Bulgarian Media Union, Union of Publishers in Bulgaria, CIBANK, Brussels, European Commission, Finance Ministry, Irena Krasteva, Central Cooperative bank, EIBank, DTT, Corporate Commercial Bank, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, Tosho Toshev, Lyubomir Pavlov, Ognyan Donev, WAZ, Hristo Grozev, 24 Hours, Presa, Media Group Bulgaria, National Investigative Office


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