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Exiled Tycoon Bojkov Arrested After Sudden Return to Bulgaria

Fugitive tycoon Vassil Bojkov, former lottery business and football club owner, was arrested in Sofia after suddenly returning from exile in Dubai on Friday.

Exiled and charged Bulgarian mogul Vassil Bojkov has been arrested after surprisingly announcing earlier on Friday that he was flying back to Bulgaria from Dubai, where he was based the last three years. 

Bojkov was put under arrest for 72 hours on arrival at Sofia airport on 20 charges, including being a leader of an organised crime group, wrongfully obtaining cultural and historical riches, murder threats and orchestrating assassinations. 

He was travelling on a commercial flight (FZ1757 737) flown by FlyDubai airline and his sudden arrival caused an increased police presence at the airport. 

“Coming back at 15:30”, tweeted Bojkov, with the message followed by his usual hashtag, “Be healthy”. He then gave an update: “I’ve arrived. Now I have a meeting with the goons,” likely referring to the police outside.

His motives for coming back to Sofia, when he has been fleeing charges for three years, remain unclear. 

In 2020, under the GERB-led government of Boyko Borissov, Bojkov’s National Lottery business and art collection were nationalised and various charges were brought against him. Bojkov escaped to Dubai.

Sporting an elusive and mysterious image through his career, since 2020 Bojkov has been a vocal critic of Borissov, GERB member and then Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, as well as of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP and media mogul Delyan Peevski.

Bojkov’s version of events is that they have all tried to extort him for his lottery business through more and more expensive licences and threats to amend the code for gambling businesses. In 2020, he claimed to have given Borissov and Goranov 30 million euros between 2017 and 2019 in bribes. 

Goranov, Peevski and Bojkov have all been sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. 

In his statements, Bojkov has also targeted the recently ousted General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev who in 2020 brought the charges against him. 

On May 16, Bojkov posted on social media that he was ready to come back to Bulgaria under protected witness status and confide everything he knows about ex-PM and GERB leader Borissov’s corruption.

Who is Vassil ‘The Skull’ Bojkov?

Since the 1990s, Bojkov has been associated with profitable businesses as well as for alleged political influence and ties to organised crime. 

He was born in 1956 in Velingrad and graduated in mathematics from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. He was known to Communist Bulgaria’s state security service for his gambling activities as early as 1985, when they were still illegal. 

His career took off after the change of regime in 1989. Bojkov started a chain of currency exchange offices and then expanded into the gambling industry in the 1990s, as well as into road construction and football.

From 1999 to 2006 he owned the football club CSKA and in March 2019 he became the owner of CSKA’s main rival, Levski.

In 2011, his name was mentioned in a diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Sofia, published by WikiLeaks, which focused on links in Bulgaria between business and crime. 

Following the 2020 nationalisation of his business, in early 2021, while in Dubai, Bojkov started a party of his own. Despite the initial buzz, “Bulgarian Summer” did not reach the threshold to enter parliament in Bulgaria’s 2021-2023 election cycle. 

Another notorious figure whose business enterprises are alleged to have crossed over to the criminal world since 1990s, Alexei Petrov, was assassinated on August 16.

Source : Balkaninsight