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PM Borissov Denies Spanish Daily's Allegations Linking Him to Barcelona House, Money Laundering

Talking to Bulgarian reporters in Brussels on Friday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov denied allegations linking him to a house in Barcelona and money laundering published in the Barcelona-based El Periodico daily. The article was discussed in the Bulgarian Parliament on the same day, and the Interior Minister said the Bulgarian authorities had not been notified of an investigation.

El Periodico said that the Catalan police and the anti-corruption prosecution office in Madrid are investigating a potential involvement of Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov in international money laundering, with Barcelona as the final destination. The investigation was launched after the Catalan police found "indications of truth" in an alert submitted by the Bulgarian civil association BOEC in March 2019. The subject of the active investigation is Bulgarian former model Borislava Yovcheva, found to be living in a luxury house in Barcelona registered with one out of two companies that have received over five million euro since 2013 from natural persons outside of Spain. A potential connection between Yovcheva and Borissov is under scrutiny, El Periodico wrote. The Spanish newspaper sent an enquiry about the case to Borissov's cabinet on February 13 but did not receive a reply.

Borissov commented: "I'll say for the hundredth time that I have neither a house nor properties there. I last went there when I was [Sofia] mayor, maybe 15 years ago. It is not my money, I have nothing to do with those companies. I have not met the people mentioned for 10, 15 or 20 years. So far no office, authority, prosecution office or police service has contacted me to ask if this is true."

He said this was "an old manipulation" against him, which is dusted off each time before elections to smear him.

Borissov alluded that President Rumen Radev might have been involved in the latest fanning of the scandal. "I understand all these investigations by my work neighbour. It is said clearly who sent the alerts, which NGOs are involved."

Borissov also said he had been forewarned that the article was going to be published. It was to be serialized on four consecutive days this week, but something went wrong. The Prime Minister said the aim was things to come to a head on the day of the procession [led by President Rumen Radev in Sofia on February 19] "so that a putsch would be staged".

Borissov assumed that he was targeted by a campaign from "the East". He stressed that he was conducting a balanced foreign policy to Russia, but the expulsion of Russian diplomats and the Interpol Red Notices for certain people could be linked to the newspaper allegations. "I hope this is not the case because we have been working very actively on all projects important to the two countries," he said.

MPs of Borissov's GERB party said that they were not aware of the article and assumed that it would turn out to be fake news.

Asked if the Spanish authorities have alerted the Interior Ministry of an investigation into Borissov's financial interests, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said: "We hold no information, no enquiries have been made via official channels."

The Catalan police, Mossos d'Esquadra, confirmed to the RFE/RL Bulgarian Service that an investigation is in progress but declined to give details, including about Borissov's possible involvement.


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