Ana Panayotova, the lawyer of Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali, has asked the Bulgarian company register to retroactively change the information about the owners of several offshore companies, and put her name down as the owner.
The companies in questions were used by Sinisa Mali to buy apartments on the Bulgarian seaside and he is also registered as the director of these companies. The Bulgarian company register has refused Panayotova’s request.
In 2012, Mali, as the director of two offshore companies with the seat in the British Virgin Islands, bought Bulgarian companies Erul 11 and Erma 11, only to later use them to buy apartments in the luxury resort of St. Nicholas in Bulgaria.
Panayotova, which was given a power of attorney by Mali in 2012 to sign documents on his behalf and represent him in Bulgaria, asked the Bulgarian company register to retroactively change the name of the director of companies Erul 11 and Erma 11, and register her as both the director and owner of these offshore companies – the Bulgarian news portal, Bivol reports.
The Register refused her request since it was against the law so Mali remains the director of the offshore companies that are running the Bulgarian companies used to purchase real estate on the Black Sea.
If the Register did approve Panayotova’s request, that would exonerate Sinisa Mali from suspicion of illegal dealings since the Serbian Anti-Corruption Agency has already complained that Mali did not inform the Agency of the fact that he is director of offshore companies. The Agency did check his assets and business affairs and suspected that certain money transactions carried out when purchasing these apartments could be constituted as money laundering because they were actually large cash payments that have been made „in a short time period, without clear logic“.
The Anti-Corruption Agency started conducting its investigation after KRIK and Bivol reported, in October 2015, that Sinisa Mali bought 24 apartments on the Bulgarian coast. He bought 23 apartments in his capacity of the director of offshore companies, and one apartment as an individual.
After KRIK’s report came out, Mali claimed that his signature on the documents pertaining to the purchase of the apartments had been forged and that he had hired a Bulgarian handwriting expert who confirmed Mali’s claims. However, he never presented evidence that would exonerate him of these claims.
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