Bulgaria Surprisingly Closes Case against Media MogulsCrime | March 8, 2013, Friday // 20:58| views
Ognyan Donev (R) and Lyubomir Pavlov (L) have good reasons to be smiling again. File photo
Bulgaria's prosecutors have unexpectedly put an end to the trial for tax evasion and money laundering against major businessmen and media moguls Ognyan Donev and Lyubomir Pavlov, citing lack of evidence.
In July last year, Bulgaria's prosecuting authority pressed tax evasion and money laundering charges against media mogul, Lyubomir Pavlov. The Sofia City Prosecutor, Nikolay Kokinov, informed that Pavlov's bail on the new charges is set at BGN 100 000.
A week earlier, Pavlov's partner, Ognyan Donev, also received tax fraud charges. Donev was imposed a record bail of BGN 500 000.
Before that, Pavlov was charged on three other counts. Back then his lawyer stressed the number of charges is a demonstration of lack of consistency and shows that the prosecution has no idea where the case is going.
In early June, media moguls Donev and Pavlov were charged with participating in a money laundering scheme, thanks to which they purchased by WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria and staged an illegal corporate take-over of the newspapers.
The two businessmen publish mass circulation dailies Trud (Labor) and 24 Chassa (24 Hours) and Pavlov is Chair of the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria.
Prosecutors were approached by Donev and Pavlov's former partners Hristo Grozev and Austrian Karl Habsburg.
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, changed 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.
It turns out however that on January 15, 2013 Hristo Grozev submitted a document, proving that he and his associates have not been incurred losses by Lyubomir Pavlov. Grozev even attached the agreement the two sides had signed.
According to the prosecutors this is a case of complicated ties between the two sides, each trying to reap the maximum gains.
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