Nexo: Four People Accused of Running a Criminal Organization
A press conference by the Bulgarian prosecutor's office, the National Security Agency (DANS) and the National Investigation Service (NIS) revealed that four people linked to Nexo have been indicted as part of an organised crime group (OCG) for money laundering, tax fraud, computer crime and unlicensed banking.
While it has not been disclosed who the individuals in question are, it has been hinted that among them are project co-founders Antoni Trenchev and Kosta Kanchev. From the statement of the Director of the National Investigation Service Borislav Sarafov it became clear that all four have been banned from leaving Bulgaria and two have been declared wanted. Two of the participants have been asked for bail in the amount of 1 million bulgarian levs and a 10-day deadline to pay it.
Sarafov pointed out that 15 residential and office premises had been searched and more than 20 witnesses, some of them anonymous, had been questioned during the special operation, with the prior permission of the court. Some of the witnesses, due to concerns for their safety, will be included in the witness protection programme.
General prosecutor Ivan Geshev said that this was “a unique case not only for Bulgaria, but also worldwide”.
In Geshev’s words, expert help from abroad will probably be needed.
Currently, investigators from the National Investigation Service, prosecutors from the City Prosecutor’s Office and members of the Financial Security Directorat, which is part of the National Security Agency, have been assigned to investigate the case.
A huge number of magnetic data carriers, computers, money and crypto assets have been seized in the case.
As for the four accused, Sarafov said the following:
“I won’t say their names, but maybe you know some of them. They have been charged with having participated in, and one of them led, an organised crime group with the self-serving purpose of committing crimes – money laundering, tax crimes, computer fraud and unlicensed banking activities – in the territories of Bulgaria, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands from the beginning of 2018 until 12 January 2023. All the accused have been banned from leaving our country.”
Prosecutor Siyka Mileva described the investigation as second in scale only to that of the bankruptcy case of one of the biggest banks in Bulgaria – KTB. She added that tax audits have been appointed, and the pre-trial proceedings have evidence that these people have extremely large financial capabilities and have expensive properties in Dubai, the Bahamas, the Caribbean.
“Thirty-five paintings by expensive artists were found and seized and will be handed over to the National Art Gallery, including Salvador Dali, Picasso and Matisse” Mileva said.
Mileva commented that there is testimony about a meeting held half a year ago in the office of the then Minister of Finance with representatives of the company under investigation and a banking transaction company, at which the possibility of introducing cryptocurrency payments in the country was discussed.
According to Svetoslav Vassilev, the head of the Cybercrimes Department at the National Security Agency, there transfers from the crypto exchange have been detected, which has been sanctioned by the United States, as well as violations of UN sanctions. Attempts to manipulate markets for various cryptocurrencies have also been recorded.
“The total value of the transactions made is over $94 billion. Transactions to a person implicated in terrorist activity have also been detected” Vassilev added.
Borislav Sarafov added that in today’s global world, financial stability is key to the normal functioning of the economy and the well-being of citizens. “The investigation is unprecedented” Sarafov stressed.