Bulgarian Chess Federation Accused Of Corruption, Danailov Denies
Prosecutors in Bulgaria have started a corruption investigation against the Bulgarian Chess Federation. Its president, Silvio Danailov, has denied the accusations.
A few days ago Chessdom reported on a “national press conference” held on May 28 by six-time Bulgarian champion GM Kiril Georgiev, Metodi Stoinev of the Marek Union Ivkoni Chess Club and Simeon Stoichkov of the Ritzar Chess Club. At the press conference, the Bulgarian Chess Federation was accused of fraud and corruption.
The information presented by the three was based on a report by the National Agency for Financial Inspection, which cites “inflated financial spendings, organization of false or nonexistent tournaments, unreasonable travel expenses, and mind-boggling amounts spent for security and ceremonies at events.”
Georgiev, Stoinev and Stoichkov have forwarded the information to Bulgaria's Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, and now prosecutors have started a corruption investigation against the Bulgarian Chess Federation.
A screenshot of the video with the press conference.
In the Chessdom report the amounts have been converted from Bulgarian Lev into Euros; Stoinev had posted most of the information on Facebook on April 15 where he mentioned the amounts in Bulgarian Lev.
The accusations are very serious. Georgiev says that there's “solid proof” that from 2011 “the BCF has turned into a money laundering machine.”
Three-time Bulgarian Champion Kiril Georgiev supports the accusations. | Photo Wikipedia.
A summary of the claims made:
- Two annual tournaments, the Albena Open and the Golden Sands tournament, would have been proclaimed to be “European Cups of Chess,” so that a special funding of 220,000 Euros from the Ministery of Sports could be claimed.
- Huge amounts of money would have been “spent” on rental of playing halls, medical services, travel expenses and anti-cheating measures.
- Money from tournaments and federations would have been transferred to the bank account of a company called “European Chess Union Ltd,” registered on May 4, 2011 in Lewes, Delaware (USA).
All facts are concerning the period January 2011 to September 2012. During this period the Bulgarian Chess Federation was led by Silvio Danailov, who is still the president. The part about the “European Chess Union Ltd” company directly affects him, because he was also the president of the European Chess Union (ECU) between 2010 and 2014.
The new leaders of the ECU are currently investigating the matters. On May 21, a press release (in PDF here) was distributed to FIDE, national federations and chess media, which specifically mentions this “European Chess Union Ltd” — and can also be found online.
During the course of this investigation, Montenegro Chess Federation provided the ECU Board and ECU General Assembly with important documents (including a bank transfer receipt, and an invoice printed on ECU letterhead and bearing the ECU stamp) according to which the deposit fee payable by the Montenegro Chess Federation to ECU appears to have been directed to be paid and to have been paid to a bank account in Slovenia belonging to “European Chess Union LLC” (...)
The Montenegro Chess Federation provided Chess.com a copy of the invoice, with which the ECU requests the MCF to transfer an amount of 7,500 Euros to an account at ABanka in Ljubljana, Slovenia connected to European Chess Union LLC, 16192 Coastal Highway, Lewes, Delaware. The money was indeed transferred.
The company info on Bizapedia.
In an email, ECU Secretary General Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou told Chess.com that he could not provide details during an official investigation: “The story is very serious and we investigate the consequences and in other countries. The documentation [relevant to the investigation] is currently [at the] Montenegro Prosecutor office and [at] our lawyers in Zug who are co-operating with the authorities there and in FIDE Ethics Commission.”
At the time of writing the status of the company in Delaware is under investigation, and the ECU hasn't accessed the Slovenian bank account either. “The only [thing] I can tell you is that no matter [the] difficulties we are facing, we have decided to bring full light on this because we must make a move against any kind of corruption with real actions, not speaking or commenting but acting,” wrote Tsorbatzoglou.
Danailov did not want to comment on the specific allegations, but denied in general terms. In an email to Chess.com he described the information from the press conference as “fake and full of lies,” claiming that Georgiev, Stoinev and Stoichkov are “small pawns in big political game.”
“They are paid to do this job, that's why are producing and using fake documents and false data together with their friends from the Montenegro Chess Federation. Very soon these guys will face court case in Bulgaria with criminal charges,” he said.
So, at the moment it's Danailov's word against that of Georgiev/Stoinev/Stoichkov, and both the Bulgarian prosecutor's investigation and that of the ECU may bring us closer to the truth.
Meanwhile, Danailov is as combatant as ever: “They can't bribe or scare me, that's why [they] are trying to damage me inside Bulgaria, using these pawns. Wait and see, the fight will be long and very tough. This is just the beginning.”