Most of the contracts with the four new lobbyists are concluded by the name of Tsvetan Vassilev’s wife – Antoaneta, most probably because of the ongoing criminal case against the former owner of the drained Corporate Commercial Bank, in which he is the main defendant.

The letter against Geshev, sent before Christmas by the congressman Warren Davidson, was written by the former owner of the bankrupt CCB who is hiding in Belgrade.

The former owner of the bankrupt Corporate Commercial Bank Tsvetan Vassilev hired four new lobbyists in the USA in 2022. This can be seen in the public registry of the lobbyists in the USA in which they are obligated to publish the contracts and the amounts of money they receive from their clients – persons and companies, international organizations and foreign countries public institutions.

The public registry reference is categorically showing that it is Tsvetan Vassilev who is the actual author of the letter, signed by the American congressman Warren Davidson and sent to the US Minister of Finance Janet Yellen. In the file that appeared in the social networks on 23rd of December the republican insisted on imposing sanctions on the Attorney General Ivan Geshev as the republican’s arguments were exactly the same as Tsvetan Vassilev’s ones through which the latter had attacked the Bulgarian state prosecution many times during the last eight years. The former banker who has been hiding in Belgrade since 2014 and who is a defendant in absentia in our country in the case of the siphoning of a total of BGN 5 billion from CCB through companies controlled by him, has not admitted anything about the lobbyists hired by him as well as about the corresponding lawyer offices in the USA.

Despite the fact that during the last year Tsvetan Vassilev in almost all of his interviews that do not arouse any interest in the audience, implied many times that he was actively working against the Bulgarian institutions and leaders who accused him in criminal activities.

Former congressman Ed Royce has agreed to represent Antoaneta Vassileva in front ot the Congress in which he has spent 26 years for the sum of at least $ 50 000 fee for three months

In fact, the new lobbyist contracts have not been concluded by Vassilev himself, but by his wife – Antoineta. At the end of January 2022, for the sum of $50,000 per quarter, she already hired Edward Royce, a former congressman with a remarkable 26-year political career in the House of Representatives, as well as Samantha Karl-Yoder, a former career diplomat who worked for more than 20 years at the State Department and in US embassies around the world. In the autumn of last year, Antoineta Vasileva concluded contracts with two more lobbyists – D.S. Boggs, a former adviser in the US Senate, a specialist in arbitration issues with a career in the World Bank, as well as with a young lawyer of Serbian origin – Milos Ivkovic, who presents himself as a specialist in commercial affairs with practice in Austria, the United States and Serbia. He is the only one with whom Tsvetan Vassilev has a direct contract as a client.

The former representative of the Republican Party in Congress probably arranged for Tsvetan Vassilev’s letter against Ivan Geshev to be signed by current congressman Warren Davidson, who turned out to be an opponent of Zelensky and a supporter of Putin.

With the new contracts, the total number of lobbyists in the USA, which Tsvetan Vasilev and his wife Antoineta have hired since 2017, in an attempt to avoid justice in Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian authorities investigating them to be sanctioned by the American government, become a total of six. Something extremely atypical and rarely seen in practice in the States, not least because of the amount of attorneys’ fees that clients will have to pay. Why and how Tsvetan Vasilev, through his wife, is undertaking the strike action to engage new lobbyists is not known, but it makes an impression that in 2020 and 2021, the banker who was charged in our country transferred symbolic sums to the previous law firms that were hired by him back in 2017. In fact, the reference makes it clear that Vassilev seems to have abandoned the services of previous lobbyists, who, despite his numerous threats to secure sanctions under the Magnitsky Law for Bulgarian officials, failed.

Another detail is that the fee of two of Vasilevi’s new lobbyists turns out to be double the one declared by their previous representatives. The greatest interest among the new lobbyists is the Republican Edward Royce, who has agreed to represent Vasilevi before the House of Representatives, where he himself has been a member for 26 years. An interesting detail is that in Royce’s last term as a congressman, he was a member of the Finance Committee along with the much younger Republican Warren Davidson. This circumstance also explains the mechanism by which a letter with allegations launched by Tsvetan Vassilev against Bulgarian prosecutor #1 Ivan Geshev turns out to be signed by a member of Congress. The content of the letter was prepared by PR experts and journalists close to Vasilev in Bulgaria, it was handed over to the lobbyist, who used his connections with active congressmen, and one of them agreed to sign it and address it to the Minister of Finance. All this is confirmed by the fact that in Antoinette Vasileva’s contract of January 31, 2022, with which she engaged Royce and Karl-Yoder, it is stated that the two will represent her before the House of Representatives, whose member is precisely the author of the letter against Ivan Geshev from the days before Christmas – Congressman Davidson.

The weakest point in this plan turned out to be the executor – Warren Davidson, or rather his positions on key issues for American foreign policy. The Republican has been heavily criticized in Washington for his highly negative attitude toward Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as against US support for Ukraine. On the other hand, Davidson is seen as a member of Congress sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a fact that isolates him even within the Republican Party.

The engagement of Edward Royce and Samantha Carl-Yoder by Antoineta Vasileva is valued at the maximum possible value – $50,000 per quarter. It remains unclear whether and what sums the law firms receive from clients beyond those officially announced in the public register. The actions of the veteran Republican and his engagement with the case of Tsvetan Vassilev raise questions that, apart from being ethical in nature, can put him in a rather delicate position, especially considering that in his long career he was even the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress .

Although in absentia, Vassilev is a defendant in a criminal case in a country that is a member of the European Union, as well as NATO, i.e. in a US partner country. Moreover, there is an active strategic agreement between the USA and Bulgaria, including in the area of the rule of law, which has never for a moment called into question the guarantees for the independence of justice in our country. In this sense, the commitment of the former congressman with serious political experience by a person accused of extremely serious financial crimes, such as Tsvetan Vassilev, comes into sharp contradiction with the official American policy towards Bulgaria. For a very long time, the USA has insisted that cases against persons who used public funds (such as the KTB case) to influence the socio-political processes in the country, including through political corruption, should end with effective sentences. Because of this, the circumstances that the lobbyists hired by Vasilevi have indicated in their contracts for their engagement, namely: “carrying out anti-corruption reform in Bulgaria”, “anti-corruption” and “rule of law”, sound more curious than serious. As in the report on the payments made to the office of Edward Royce and Samantha Karl-Yoder, it is even indicated that Antoineta Vasileva had something to do with the stated reasons for the lobbying contract.

Nikolay Malinov was awarded by the Russian president in the end of 2019 only a month after he had been accused of espionage in Russia’s favour

As for the ethical problem in which Edward Royce falls, it is more than serious, especially in the current situation in the relations between the United States and Russia. It is a public and well-known fact that Vasilev owes his peaceful stay in Serbia from the end of 2014 until today to the ties with oligarchs close to the Kremlin, such as Konstantin Malofeev, against whom, at the end of November 2022, American prosecutors requested the confiscation of assets located in the US worth more than 5 million dollars. The closeness of Vassilev and Malofeev dates back to the defendant’s ex-banker’s attempts to seize in 2014-2015 with the help of the Russian oligarch in question, his proxies and Moscow’s intelligence services, assets of KTB – from military plants, through a telecommunications company, to companies operating in the field of fuel trade, tourism and others. Just as this was happening eight years ago, Malofeev was on the sanctions lists of the USA and the European Union for the first time, and since 2019 he has been banned from entering Bulgaria as well. The reason – his role in the attempt of the leader of the Bulgarian Russophile Party, Nikolay Malinov, to divert the country from its Euro-Atlantic orientation. At the same time, Malinov himself admits that he personally introduced Tsvetan Vasilev to the oligarch Malofeev. This recognition is far from accidental, especially considering that while Tsvetan Vasilev actively hires lobbyists in the USA, in the past 2022, Malinov was at least twice in Moscow, where he held meetings with Malofeev and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Nikolay Malinov owes his, albeit not very noticeable, participation in Bulgarian politics mainly to his closeness to Tsvetan Vassilev, which is evident from the politician’s frequent visits to the banker’s office ten years ago. Through Malinov’s Russian connections, Vassilev even tried to transfer the now closed TV 7 to the accused pro-Russian politician.

Nikolay Malinov, close to Tsvetan Vasilev and accused of espionage for Russia, is among the few Bulgarians who had meetings with official representatives of the Kremlin, such as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Oligarch Konstantin Malofeev and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova are pictured with their backs facing each other.

The fact that Tsvetan Vassilev owes his permanent residency in Serbia to his close contacts with people from Putin’s inner circle would be particularly worrying for the reputation of former congressman Ed Royce. The fact is that, despite the numerous attempts of the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office to bring about his return to our country and bring him to justice because of the intentional bankruptcy of KTB, Vassilev was even granted political asylum by the Serbian authorities last year. It turns out that this coincides in time with the hiring of the young Serbian lawyer Milos Ivkovic, who has also agreed to represent him through the official authorities in the US.

Nikolay Malinov who often used to attend Tsvetan Vassilev’s office in the past in one of CCB buildings in Sofia admits himself that he was the one who introduced Konstantin Malofeev to the bankrupt Vassilev

Everything listed so far pales in comparison to the fact that even more than five years ago, it became clear from leaked notes that Tsvetan Vasilev relied specifically on Malofeev’s close friend – Dmitry Kosarev, who financed the stay and security of the former banker in Belgrade. All this leads to the logical conclusion that with money from Moscow, Vassilev hires lobbyists at the highest level in Washington, and in the end, Russian services are primarily interested in his subversive activities, which in the last three years suffered serious damage with the expulsion of an entire a dozen Russian intelligence officers from Bulgaria after successful investigations by the State Security Service and the Prosecutor’s Office.

Tsvetan Vassilev’s striking action, which comes after a more than two-year hiatus, also speaks of another circumstance. It is very likely that the indicted former banker hiding in Belgrade is just one of a group of interested wanted, sued and investigated economic players who are looking for all possible ways to destabilize the prosecution in order to solve their problems with native justice, be it by hiring lobbyists in the cradle of modern democracy – the Capitol.