“Pellegate”. An investigation linked the parents of Delyan Dobrev to fictitious transactions with TPP “Maritsa 3”

A company of the parents of GERB MP Delyan Dobrev concluded fictitious deals for the supply of wood waste from pellets with TPP “Maritsa 3” , which is connected to businessman Hristo Kovacki . This is according to an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Fund (AKF), published on Thursday.

Delyan Dobrev himself denied that the allegations in the investigation were true and defined them as “suggestions and manipulations”.

Over the past year or so, he has been among those pushing for an extension of the Marish Basin coal-fired power plants, as well as a renegotiation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Such a decision would also be in the interest of the affected TPP “Maritsa 3”, the ACF states.

Therefore, according to the organization, the case raises doubts about Dobrev’s conflict of interest, alleged corruption crimes and violations in connection with environmental legislation. Therefore, ACF has sent signals to KPCONPI, the prosecutor’s office and the Minister of Environment and Water.

What are dummy trades?
The ACF investigation begins with an inspection of the Regional Directorate of Forestry in Kardzhali due to a report that allegedly illegally cut wood was delivered to the TPP “Maritsa 3”.

In December 2022, the inspection found that the headquarters provided 8 invoices for the supply of wood chips from the company “Visor” OOD , an average of about 3,000 tons per month, at a price of BGN 95 per ton. Transport tickets for the chips were not presented, and no wood was found on the territory of the TPP.

“Vizor” Ltd. is owned by the mother and father of Delyan Dobrev, who is an MP from GERB and a former Minister of Energy. Wood chips are the material from which pressed pellets are produced.

According to ACF, however, there is a discrepancy between the invoiced quantity of 3,000 tons per month and the actual quantities that “Vizor” OOD can produce. According to official data presented on the company’s website, the company’s monthly production of pellets amounts to only about 2,600 tons.

“It turns out that Visor produces more waste than pellets. Which is obviously not true. What’s more, the technology of the pellets is produced precisely from wood waste, and during this production, no significant waste should be generated,” the ACF states.

In addition, ACF also went to one of the workshops of “Vizor”, where workers told them that they only produce pellets, but not wood chips.

This, according to the organization, raises doubts that the wood for which “Vizor” received money from the plant existed only on paper. According to the documents, in 2022, about BGN 285,000 per month (about BGN 3 million per year) went from TPP “Maritsa 3” AD to the company of Dobrev’s parents.

Questions about the carbon quotas of the TPP
Apart from that, the investigation casts doubt on the carbon emissions declared by the TPP.

According to European regulations, plants that use biomass as fuel to produce electricity in addition to coal pay lower amounts for harmful carbon emissions. Pellet waste is also considered biomass.

However, the data presented by ACF call into question whether the Maritsa 3 TPP actually used biomass and whether it actually paid the due amounts for carbon quotas.

“Or is it about harming the health of those living in the area and damaging the national and European budget with millions,” asks Lora Georgieva from the ACF team.

In February , the European Prosecutor’s Office announced that it was investigating alleged abuses in Bulgaria of the European Union ‘s emissions trading system . Maritsa 3, as well as other headquarters connected to Hristo Kovacki, were among the suspects searched at the time.

What is the company’s response to Delyan Dobrev’s parents?
The company “Vizor” told ACF that for three years in a row they have delivered to TPP Maritsa 3 “wood chips, which is a product produced at the company’s sites and is not wood waste” .

Shipments were requested by phone for the respective month, and were not under a concluded contract, and were transported to the TPP with licensed hired transport.

What Delyan Dobrev said
In written responses to AKF, the deputy from GERB refuses to give explanations, as he is not the owner or manager of the affected company. However, he denies any conflict of interest and claims that his demand for a renegotiation of the EPA and his opposition to a 40% cut in emissions from coal-fired plants have nothing to do with the interest of his parents’ company.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, he also wrote that “remaining details will be clarified by his lawyers”.

What does Hristo Kovacki answer?
The businessman Hristo Kovacki, who is associated with TPP “Maritsa 3”, for his part says that he is not familiar with the biomass suppliers of TPP Maritsa 3 – Dimitrovgrad.

“I know Delyan Dobrev as a public figure. I support all the attempts of the Bulgarian plants to burn biomass and other low-emission fuels, which is the basis of the green transition”, he also wrote in his answers to ACF.

Kovachki is associated with various coal plants and mines in Bulgaria, but has no direct involvement in their ownership. Over the years, the businessman has said that he consults with his fathers, without giving further details. Most recently, in February, he confirmed to Free Europe that he was consulting for the Brickell TPP near Galabovo.

The plant there came into the public spotlight in mid-2022 after inspections found fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxide pollution “in excess of the norm.”

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