Bulgaria Scandal Widens Among Gaming OfficialsPublished February 14, 2020 by Lee R
The accusations are still coming in, and the charges yet to be filed, but something is clearly amiss among Bulgarian officials.
In Bulgaria, more concerns have arisen from the detention Bulgaria Gambling Commission head for the second time in two weeks.
The Latest Raid
This second raid of the commission targets organised crime, with Bulgarian National Radio reporting an additional 18 of the commission’s employees taken in for questioning.
The Initial Raid
The initial raid targeted the Sofia offices of Nove Holding, an organization with diversified interests operating several of Bulgaria's largest bookmakers and lottery operators and owned by an alleged criminal mastermind: Bulgarian businessman Vassil Bozhkov.
Prosecutors announced the raid resulted in the levying of a total of seven charges including leading an organised crime group, extortion and attempted bribery.
Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev has further announced that Bozhkov was no longer in Bulgaria, rendering him the subject of a European arrest warrant, and listed on an international wanted list. Bozkhov is currently rumored to be in United Arab Emirates.
Widespread Unpaid Taxes and Fees
The newest raid comes barely weeks after a Parliamentary bill was tabled that would ban private lottery games, after media reports surfaced of private operators not paying taxes and fees in full, with the leva shortfall numbering in the hundreds of millions.
Two More Implicated
Bulgaria’s Specialised Prosecutor’s Office additionally is seeking the remand of two more officials: current member of the State Commission on Gambling member Todor Markov and former commission member Plamen Georgiev, for suspected involvement in organised crime masterminded gambling tycoon Bozhkov.
Current Status of Proceedings
The aforementioned application has been declined by Bulgaria's specialised court. The judge deemed pre-trial detention too heavy pending full details of the Bozkhov investigation.
The court ordered house arrest for both in the interim, with accused defendants Markov and Georgiev instructed not to contact officials from the Gambling Commission.
Bulgaria looks to be facing a serious scandal, but until the facts are confirmed, it seems best for iGaming stakeholders to reserve judgment about the existence or extent of the corruption.