Bulgarian media SegaBg today reports that leading figures in the “We continue the change” party were involved in a property scandal, which, instead of dying down, grew. A bird investigation shed light on, to put it mildly, strange real estate transactions carried out by PP MP and former Minister of Innovation Daniel Laurer and by the company “STV Consulting” connected to Finance Minister Asen Vasilev. The deals were made immediately before the company declared insolvency, and its accounts were seized at the request of American citizen Sebastian Bretschneider. Bretschneider was able to defend in court a protective order in the amount of BGN 730,602, as part of a future claim in the amount of BGN 5,013,317 in a lawsuit before an arbitration court in the USA. The protective order is dated 17.11.2023.
Two months earlier – on September 7, 2023, STV Consulting and Lorer sold a building in the center of Sofia to Stanislava Arnaudova. In the media, the lady was presented as the vignette queen because of the commissions she received from the sale of vignettes. Thus, the company gets rid of its property just in time before its accounts are seized. Both Vassilev and Laurer do not see anything problematic in their actions. However, the facts raise a series of uncomfortable questions.
1. Why is Daniel Laurer a privileged buyer?
The building at 3 “Chataldzha” Street, also used as the headquarters of “We continue the change”, was purchased by “STV Consulting” on June 19, 2019. At that time, the company was 100% owned by Asen Vassilev. He transferred his share in it to Mario Sotirov only in May 2021, after entering the office.
There do not appear to be any problems in this initial deal to purchase the building. The property was bought at a price of BGN 1,858,038.5, and the money was secured by a mortgage from Procredit Bank. The entire loan is larger – BGN 2,640,370.5, and the contract is from the day the property was acquired. The mortgage was canceled quickly – in July 2021, after a new mortgage contract for BGN 2.9 million, this time with Eurobank Bulgaria.
If Daniel Laurer’s property declaration from the date of his inauguration as Minister of Innovation is to be believed, he has entered into a preliminary contract for a floor in the same building as early as 2020. The contract is for the purchase of an office plus three other small premises – one underground and two technical ones, at a total price of BGN 351,950. The preliminary contract between Laurer and “STV Consulting” becomes final on April 6, 2022. For this reason, the property was again declared by Laurer as acquired in 2022 at the same price.
Laurer’s first deal raises a series of questions. The price of the preliminary contract, confirmed as final, is close to the price per square meter at which the entire property was originally acquired. But it is at least twice lower than the prices per square meter in the area at that time. It in no way reflects the fact that, in the meantime, a large mortgage loan was taken out for the repair of the building, part of which is the apartment. According to Asen Vassilev himself, a complete reconstruction of the building was carried out, which ends in 2021, i.e. before the final contract with Laurer. So it turns out that Vasilev’s company not only sold Laurer an office and service premises at a low price, but also “gifted” him the value of the major repairs.
From Laurer’s declaration in the public register, it does not appear that he undertook to return money to “STV Consulting” for the repair in any other way. There are no encumbrances recorded in his deed for the property.
2. Why is Daniel Laurer a super salesman?
In addition to buying very profitably, Laurer also turns out to be a super seller – he manages to sell his properties in the building for five times the price! On September 7, 2023, he sold the office and premises in the Stanislava Arnaudova building. On the same date – September 7, 2023, “STV Consulting” sold the remaining part of the building to the company “Sea Trading 2016”, sole property of the same Stanislava Arnaudova.
From the data in the property register, it is clear that the price at which “STV Consulting” is selling its part of the property is BGN 3,096,730.18. For this sum, a total of 3 offices with an area of 414.51 sq.m., garages with an area of 199 sq.m. and a gym of 42.5 sq.m., plus the adjoining property – 380 sq.m. If we take only the area of the offices – 414.51 sq.m., and abstract from the rest, the average price per sq.m. of office comes out to BGN 7,470.
Daniel Laurer managed to sell his own office of 113.61 sq.m plus a 91 sq.m attic space and two other technical rooms of 29.3 sq.m – or a total of 234 sq.m, for the impressive sum of BGN 1,858,038.5 Rough calculations show that this makes BGN 7,940 per square. I.e. he receives much more for his property, provided that he did not even pay for the repairs previously made by Asen Vasilev’s company.
There is no way that this price is commensurate with the price of the other offices and rooms in the building. It is comparable to the price of the offices under the first deal with “STV Consulting” per square meter, but without garages, land value and gym included. So it turns out that Stanislava Arnaudova agreed to pay much more for Laurer’s property than the rest of the building. Judging by the prices of the garages and premises, the top is very large. The question is why Arnaudova agreed to pay her.
3. Why did Stanislava Arnaudova pay too much at a critical moment for “STV Consulting”?
Who is the buyer who buys the company’s building at a critical moment for the company “STV Consulting” – looming foreclosures – is a key question. Stanislava Arnaudova, buyer of the building used for the party headquarters, is the actual owner of “Intelligent Traffic Systems”, one of the three intermediary companies in the collection of state fees from heavy goods traffic. The company receives a 7% commission for the purpose.
This relationship was fiercely contested with the argument that the “Intelligent Traffic Systems” contract dates from the time of GERB, and to be more convincing, PP-DB introduced legal amendments to reduce the ceiling of commissions to 3%. The PP also points out that a third company was admitted to the vignette market at the Denkov office.
Alas, the ties to “Intelligent Traffic Systems” didn’t stop at commissions from heavy traffic charges. In a publication for Deutsche Welle, Emilia Milcheva revealed that a few months before the transaction, the company had entered into communication with the Ministry of Finance, headed by Asen Vassilev, regarding unfavorable changes in the law on public procurement. The changes were published for public discussion in June 2023, and the draft prepared by the Ministry of Finance provides for the elimination of the existing exception for the API to enter into contracts for electronic road tolling without conducting procedures in accordance with the PPA. According to the MoF, this exception should be dropped because it was a “casuistic approach” and is in violation of the permissible exceptions under the PLO.
In their opinion, “Intelligent Traffic Systems” objected that there is no violation of the directives and the PPA is inapplicable to this type of service, for which Brussels has introduced a registration regime. The MoF agreed with the objection with the argument that the activity does not really fall within the scope of the PPA, but it should not have appeared in the exceptions that are admissible in cases explicitly specified by the EC. Therefore, the MoF has decided to temporarily leave the text and ask the EC what to do.
We can only guess whether there was any other communication outside of the official one, but the conclusion of a real estate deal with “Intelligent Traffic Systems” only three months into the freezing of the cooked change, which would deprive Stanislava Arnaudova’s company of its privileged position and the resulting millions of revenues , is questionable, to say the least.
4. Does Asen Vasilev really have nothing to do with “STV Consulting” during the real estate transactions?
The assurances of Finance Minister Asen Vassilev, that he no longer has anything to do with the company “STV Consulting” because he left it, are not convincing at all. In any case, Asen Vasilev is strongly connected with the new-old owner of the company – Mario Sotirov. Over the years, they have mutually transferred ownership of the company at the symbolic price of BGN 99 – the amount of its capital when it was founded in 2012.
Thus, in March 2013, when he became for the first time the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism in the interim government of Marin Raykov, Vassilev sold his entire shareholding in Mario Sotirov’s company for BGN 99. When he ceased to be a minister, in August 2013 , he gets his shares back, again for BGN 99. In 2021, when he again becomes minister of finance, this time in the government of Stefan Yanev Vassilev, he again sells his company to Mario Sotirov, again for BGN 99.
5. What is Sebastian Bretschneider’s lawsuit against “STV Consulting” about?
Very interesting is the question of what Sebastian Bretschneider’s original lawsuit in the USA against the company “STV Consulting” was about. At the moment, nothing is known about him apart from the security order issued in Bulgaria for part of the amount. It is not clear with what arguments the request for security is defended before the court. In any case, it is very disturbing to have a claim worth BGN 5 million against a company related to the Finance Minister of Bulgaria. Bretschneider’s lawyer – Yordanka Panchovska, refused to comment on the claim to “Sega”.
Bretschneider himself is by no means an accidental figure. As of November 2020, Brettschneider is director of corporate development at CTW in New York, according to his LinkedIn page. This is probably a branch of “STV Consulting”, because the address for correspondence given on its website is Sofia, 3 “Chataldzha” street – the building whose sale caused so many questions. According to the site’s description, CTW is a platform that provides real-time shopping, additional services, packages, dynamic pricing and inter-product exchange between all airlines.
It is a well-known fact that Asen Vasilev’s first company, founded in 2007 – “Lesno Bulgaria” EOOD, deals precisely with the sale of plane tickets at the best prices. The start-up company raised $6.1 million in funding with the help of investment fund NEVEQ, and the fund acquired it. Asen Vasilev was the manager of the company until 2009. In the same year, he founded another company with the same subject of activity – “Everbred Limited Great Britain”, with which another spectacular scandal was connected. One of the investors in the company – Morten Lund, accused Asen Vasilev of fraud. After exchanging sharp remarks, the former partners resolved the dispute with an out-of-court settlement.
In the media, Bretschneider is portrayed as an established leader for transforming businesses. He has served as an executive and chief transformation officer at several investment fund-owned companies in various industries in the US.
The way in which “STV Consulting” was able to sell off its property just before falling into insolvency does not sound good either. This kind of behavior is understandable from a commercial point of view, but it is problematic when it involves the finance minister of the state. The resale of the company of the head of the National Narcotics Agency Rumen Spetsov to a low-income citizen was also problematic, in order not to repay 1.5 million BGN debts to the budget. The case is yet to develop.
Asen Vassilev extradited to the USA to be tried under the Rico Mafia Act for his new 5 million fraud!?
Bulgarian media bnews today reports that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, for prosecuting organized criminal figures and mobsters accused of particularly brazen frauds, racketeering and other long-lasting serious crimes organized by groups – The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, is breathing down the neck of a very smart Bulgarian fraudster . Found like that not by someone else, but by his former partners abroad.
“What options does the poor American citizen Sebastian Bretschneider have after finding out that Asen Vassilev’s /former/ company is a sack? This is how the number one enemy of Asen Vassilev and PePetata Atanas Chobanov of Byrd thinks.
Mr. Bretschneider, according to his own CV, started working as a director at STV, based in New York, in November 2020. The company was then owned by Asen Vassilev.
The court gave him the right, whatever he claimed. The company owes him BGN 5 million, which he cannot get.
The opinion of serious experts whom we at BNEWS asked is the following. The Bulgarian prosecutor’s office is an option only if it works under pressure from the Embassy or Vassilev’s partners in the Assembly, if they decide to end it. But the case can be put to pieces in order to blackmail Vassilev during his time as finance minister. Asen Vassilev’s remaining in office is already absurd, because the scheme was carried out with the avoidance of payment of obligations while he was in office. This is the second international scandal in which Haskov’s Ostap Bender is wanted and sued by associates all over the world, whom he drags away with millions. The stain on Bulgaria as a country of the Euro-Atlantic community because of the effects of Kokorcho is huge.
The option with Magnitsky in Bulgaria has been proven to do little work, except to turn retired politicians into political corpses.
The most interesting option is for Vasilev to be tried as a fraudster who participated in a planned robbery under the Rico Mafia Act. The important condition here is that an American citizen suffered a large sum of money, and Asen Vassilev is considered a repeat offender, because he was tried for major fraud by his partners in a London court on another occasion, although the case ended with the signing of an agreement between the parties and the payment of amounts due. If charged under the Ricoh Act, Vasilev will be extradited to the US and tried in a New York court. For this purpose, the American citizen must first refer to the prosecutor’s office in the United States that he has been the victim of a prolonged fraud by a foreign person.
Where will Asen Vassilev serve his sentence?
Asen Vassilev will serve his sentence in a federal prison for especially serious criminals in the United States, if and when he is convicted. It is enough to prove that he drained his company through a fictitious deal with the property at discounted prices in order not to return the sum of 5 million owed to the kidnapped American citizen.
Due to fear of extradition and the long arm of the Law, Rico Asen Vassilev has hired American lobbyists with money from his party’s state subsidy to try to lobby the authorities in Washington not to use all their power against their client. Similar services of the same lobbyists, but without much success, were also hired by other Bulgarian oligarchs to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions and the Rico court, but most of them were overtaken by the American strikes. Vassilev, whose case seems the clearest, may turn out to be the first Bulgarian tried under the US anti-mafia law.
Currently, there are other Bulgarians who are also threatened with extradition and charges under Rico if the prosecutor’s evidence against them passes the court.
Here is a clear comment on the case with Asen Vassilev and the silence of the media without Bird and BNEWS by fellow journalist Ivelin Nikolov:
“I don’t usually pick on people, but I’ll say it anyway. Asencho is already a political traveller. It is good that both his friends and those who write blacklists on the media under his dictation understand him.
You make up your own mind.
The boy is leaving. A true Euro-Atlantic.
I’m not nagging, but this propaganda in the mainstream media is very shameful.
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for serving absolute idiots?’
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