Bobby Tsankov, centre, arrives for a hearing in a fraud trial in June 2004.
Radio show host and self-proclaimed expert on Bulgaria’s underworld Bobbie Tsankov, who was shot dead in Sofia on January 5 2010, had 12 convictions for fraud, according to Sofia Regional Court records.
Tsankov, who boasted of his knowledge of prominent organised crime figures and authored a book published in late 2009 on the topic, had a prosecution outstanding against him at the time of his death for distribution of illegal software, Bulgarian media reported court chairperson Alexander Nalbantov as saying.
At least one conviction had been well-known, Tsankov’s suspended sentence to three-and-a-half years in jail for using a radio show to embezzle large sums.
Bulgarian-language mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa said on January 8 that there were 66 complaints from people who had alleged that Tsankov had swindled money from them. Unofficial estimates were that he had gained at least 100 000 leva through defrauding people.
Newspaper reports of allegations that the "Margin Brothers" – Krassimir and Nikolai Marinovi – had ordered the murder of Tsankov said that he had said in the weeks before his death that he intended making revelations about a number of high-profile killings in recent years in Bulgaria.
Tsankov had intended following up his book, Secrets of the Mobsters, with another.
Through their lawyer, the Marinovi have denied having had anything to do with Tsankov’s murder. Krassimir Marinov, in custody, faces formal charges of instigating the killing.
On January 8, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that he was expecting that investigators would report to him "any moment now" with an update of the probe into Tsankov’s death. Borissov declined further comment.
The Tsankov killing has been followed by a flurry of activity by Bulgaria’s law enforcement bodies; apart from taking into custody some of those that investigators believe could be linked to Tsankov’s death, including Krassimir Marinov, and seeking others, police have bust a large-scale drug ring in Sofia and have been carrying out an operation in Plovdiv that has seen several arrests, although not that of fugitive Nikolai Marinov, who earlier reports suggested had quit the country.
Prosecutors have pledged a review of outstanding cases and police have been ordered to pursue suspects at large who have outstanding arrest warrants and cases pending against them.
While it had been reported earlier that CCTV footage from a spot close to the entrance of the building where Tsankov and two bodyguards were shot could be helpful to investigators, Sofia police commissioner Valeri Yordanov said that Tsankov’s killers were not visible on the tape, although it had not yet been subjected to forensic analysis.
On the morning of January 8, mass-circulation daily Trud said that in the days before his death, Tsankov had named a number of people that he feared would seek revenge for his allegations about them in a weekend newspaper and during a television appearance.
These people included the "Margins", Stefan "Sako" Bonev, Meto Ilienski, Mityo "The Eyes" Zhelayzkov. The latter was sentenced to up to five years in jail in 2009 after a plea bargain in which he admitted to being a drug boss.
Football club boss Ivailo Drazhev, reportedly acquainted with Tsankov, was taken into custody on January 7 by police. Sofia Regional Court was expected to rule on January 8 whether Drazhev should continue to be held in custody.