The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was surprised to learn that on 12 December, the Bulgarian Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture froze property and bank account belongings of Ivo Prokopiev, a businessman and media owner.
Prokopiev, who is the majority owner of financial paper Kapital and news site Dnevnik, claims that the state agency sets to intimidate journalists and censor outlets. Prokopiev and his family have undergone 27 tax checks over the past few years and no violations were found. His media are often critical of the government.
The Commission is planning to file a claim against the media owner in order to seize his assets and property, estimated at about 199 million Bulgarian levs (approx. 101 million EUR). According to them, Prokopiev allegedly obtained his wealth from a rogue privatization of Kaolin mineral plant 17 years ago, which he denies. In 2004, a court in Bulgaria ruled that no wrongdoing occurred during the privatization of said plant.
"I am surprise about this decision. I am asking the Bulgarian officials for more information and a transparent investigation. Ivo Prokopiev is a long year SEEMO friend. and a high professional manager.", Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO secretary general, said.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.