Former Gambling Magnate Vassil Bojkov Remanded in Sofia
The Sofia City Court has ruled on Saturday that former gambling mogul and infamous oligarch Vassil Bojkov be remanded in custody pending further investigations and legal proceedings.
The Court made the ruling after the Sofia City Prosecution Office tendered the request and evidence earlier on Saturday, seeking to detain Bojkov's arrest for one of the three cases against him, specifically the one relating to his gambling business.
Bojkov is charged with heading an organized crime group that has purportedly been in operation since 2014 and engaging in illegal activities like extortion, bribery, money laundering, and misconduct while in office.
Bojkov's Return to Bulgaria
Judge Hristinka Koleva stated that there is sufficient evidence in the case to support the accusations of the businessman's involvement in the alleged crimes. As such, the Sofia City Court decided to keep Bojkov in custody due to concerns that he might go into hiding if released.
Vassil Bojkov arrived in Sofia on August 25 from Dubai after evading Bulgarian justice for three years in the United Arab Emirates. He landed in Sofia by air after announcing his return through a Facebook post earlier in the day. Upon arrival, he was arrested by Sofia authorities and taken into custody for 72 hours. Bojkov's reasons for returning to Sofia, especially after evading charges for three years, remain unclear.
However, while exiting the courtroom on Saturday, Bojkov dismissed the prosecution's assertions that he had communicated with Yevgeny Prigozhin.
According to his attorney, Georgi Gatev, he was hearing the claims for the first time and could not establish a connection to the gambling case at hand. He further expressed uncertainty about the inclusion of topics like Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict, and Africa within the case.
Prosecutor Angel Kunev informed journalists that the connection to Prigozhin is based on evidence from the case. When asked about how they confirmed the messages were truly sent to Prigozhin, Kunev explained that the confirmation was established through witness testimonies, technical assessments, and accounting expert opinions.
Who Is Vassil Bojkov?
Born in 1956 in Velingrad, Bojkov completed his mathematics degree at Sofia's University of National and World Economy. He started getting known to the Communist Bulgaria's state security service as early as 1985 for his involvement in gambling activities, which were still illegal at the time.
Following the regime change in 1989, Bojkov's career gained momentum. He started several currency exchange offices and subsequently diversified into the gambling sector during the 1990s. He also expanded his interests into road construction and football.
In 2020, during Boyko Borissov's GERB-led government, Bojkov's National Lottery business and art collection were nationalized by the state, and he faced multiple charges. Bojkov fled to Dubai and subsequently became an open critic of Borissov, former GERB member and Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, as well as Delyan Peevski, a media mogul and MP of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
At the beginning of 2021, Bojkov established his own political party while residing in Dubai. However, despite generating initial excitement, the "Bulgarian Summer" party fell short of the threshold to secure parliamentary representation during Bulgaria's 2021-2023 election cycle.