Antoaneta Vassileva, the wife of Tzvetan Vassilev—a prominent Bulgarian businessman and former majority shareholder of Corporate Commercial Bank—recently recounted her family’s struggles with the Bulgarian government in an article published on the site Medium.com.
The article—both a condemnation of the government’s alleged use of “Soviet-style tactics” and an appeal to the EU for assistance—chronicles Ms. Vassileva’s personal experiences with what she describes as ploys used by the Bulgarian government’s elites to undermine its rivals.
“The judicial system in Bulgaria is often described as ‘Stalinist.’,” she begins.
Vassileva writes, “Indeed, the Bulgarian Prosecution Service often organizes ‘witch-hunts’ against the political and economic rivals of those in power using Soviet-style tactics. Moreover, it uses all available repressive instruments of the State to destroy them by targeting their closest friends and relatives, too.”
Ranked Forbes’ most influential person in Bulgaria in 2013, Antoaneta’s husband, Tzvetan Vassilev, became “a serious threat to a Bulgarian power structure that relies on corruption for its subsistence,”Vassileva writes.
According to Ms. Vassileva, Vassilev fell out of favor with Bulgaria’s ruling elite after criticizing the government’s “mafia model” and showing evidence that government leaders had cooperated with organized criminals to blackmail him in the wake of the “2014 government-provoked bank run” on Corporate Commercial Bank.
As Tzvetan’s wife, Ms. Vassileva describes how she believes she became a collateral victim when “the Bulgarian Prosecution Service targeted me to get to him.” She was accused of money laundering for purchasing a house in Switzerland in 2012 “with allegedly ‘misappropriated’ money.”
“To buy the house, I used a loan from a bank in Switzerland as well as money given to me by my husband,” she says. Vassileva states that Vassilev “declared this money and paid taxes to the Bulgarian Tax Authorities, which had recently completed an extensive 10-year audit of our family income and found nothing out of order.”
Appealing to a judicial system whose magistrates were described by the U.S. State Department in 2016 as having been “susceptible to political pressure and rendered unequal justice,” likely led Ms. Vassileva to call on the EU in her article to take a stand against the persistent problems inside Bulgaria, the EU’s most corrupt member state.