Wanted Bulgarian gambling tycoon Vassil Bozhkov detained in UAE

The United Arab Emirates has officially confirmed that wanted gambling tycoon Vassil Bozhkov has been detained, Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor, Ivan Geshev said on February 2...

Wanted Bulgarian gambling tycoon Vassil Bozhkov detained in UAE

The United Arab Emirates has officially confirmed that wanted gambling tycoon Vassil Bozhkov has been detained, Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor, Ivan Geshev said on February 2.

The other wanted person whose detention in the UAE has been confirmed is one of Bozhkov’s closest associates Georgi Popov who on documents is the owner of Levski football club, whose sponsor is Vassil Bozhkov.

The two were detained on Friday evening in Abu Dhabi, according to BNT sources, shortly before leaving the Emirates. On February 1, another suspected member of the organized crime group, Boris Bekyarov, was detained in Austria. The authorities are still looking for Alexander Tamparov.

According to BNT sources, Vassil Bozhkov flew from Sofia to Paris on January 23, a day after the first operation in the State Commission on Gambling. In the French capital he has held several meetings with partners from other countries where he has a gambling business. On January 25, shortly after 6:30 pm he returned to Bulgaria but stayed for only an hour. One of his closest associates, Georgi Popov, which is reportedly the owner of Levski football club, went on board of Bozhkov’s private plane. Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have informed Bulgaria that Bozhkov and Popov have crossed border control at Dubai International Airport in the early hours of January 26th. According to our sources, on January 29, when the operation began at the offices of Nove Holding (Bozhkov’s company), Bozhkov and Popov moved to Abu Dhabi, where they were detained on January 31, shortly before heading to the airport where a private aircraft was waiting for them, to leave the Emirates.

Ivan Geshev, Chief Prosecutor, explained that Bulgaria will prepare all the necessary documents. The UAE informed us that the two had been detained and informed us what to send, he added.

Extradition from the Emirates is carried out under federal law No 39 of 2006. The countries with which there is no agreement, the so called "principle of reciprocity" in international law is applied. The extradition request must be sent through diplomatic channels, after which two court instances are heard - the main court and the court of appeal. The defendants for whom extradition is sought must be represented by local lawyers, to whom the fee should be paid personally. The procedure is not quick and takes at least half a year. There is also a faster alternative - it may be a goodwill to another country. This option assumes that the requesting state will respond in the same way to the gesture when the sender makes a request to it.

In 2012, the Emirates declined the extradition of Christoforos Amanatidis-Taki.

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On January 29, the Prosecutor’s Office pressed charges against businessman Vassil Bozhkov on seven counts.

The news came amid a law enforcement operation in Sofia targeting officials from the State Commission on Gambling.

Bozhkov, whose Nove Holding owns Lottery Bulgaria and National Lottery, has been circulated as internationally wanted, because he left Bulgaria.

He is accused of masterminding an organized crime group and engaging in coercion, blackmail, attempted bribery of a public official and incitement to commit malfeasance in office.

Bozhkov was put on an Interpol wanted list. Prosecutor’s office said that the businessman had evaded paying more than half a billion BGN in gambling fees.

Also on January 29, officials of the Special Prosecutor's Office and Ministry of Interior took for questioning the head of the State Commission on Gambling, the head of control of the State Commission on Gambling and more than 10 officials of the commission.


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