Bulgaria’s General Prosecutor announced on Monday that it has opened an investigation into Prime Minister Boyko Borissov after allegations of money laundering emerged in Spain.
“The Prosecutor’s Office will request official information from the Spanish authorities through the mechanism of international judicial cooperation,” the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
Spain’s El Periodico newspaper reported last week that Borissov has been under investigation by police in Catalonia since last March when they received an allegation that he had bought a luxury villa for his girlfriend near Barcelona.
According to El Periodico, which has seen the official complaint, the allegations centre on Borislava Yovcheva, a former Bulgarian bikini model, who has long been rumoured to have had a romantic relationship with the Prime Minister.
Yovcheva, who lives in the Catalan capital together with her daughter and her father, set up two companies in Barcelona, with an initial capital of 3,000 euros, but has since received a total of five million euros in suspicions transactions from outside Spain. Yovcheva then bought a 1.5 million euro villa, a 70,000 euro Porsche and opened a clothes shop in central Barcelona.
Police in Catalonia have asked the prosecutor’s office to investigate the incomes, tax payments and bank records of Yovcheva, her father and five others, as they have failed to declare an income that could explain such a high standard of living, the article said.
The allegations of money laundering, which El Periodico says the police are treating as credible, “might be related to undeclared funds of high-ranking officials in the Bulgarian government” and “point to the existence of a criminal organisation,” according to the authorities.
Catalan police confirmed to Radio Free Europe on Friday that they were conducting an investigation but declined to give details, including whether the Bulgarian prime minister was implicated.
“We don’t provide information on pending investigations,” the police press service said.
Speaking to journalists on February 21 at the European Council in Brussels, Borisov denied having ever bought property in Spain.
“I’ll say it for the hundredth time — I don’t have a house there, I don’t have any property there; the last time I was in Barcelona I was there as a mayor of Sofia 15 years ago,” he said.
Borissov said “no service, no power, no police”, has been in touch with him regarding the allegations and hinted at a hybrid Russian campaign, involving Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, to smear him.
“Let them do their investigation but I’m pretty sure this all comes from the East and I’ll bet a few [Russian] rubles on that,” he told broadcaster Dnevnik.