The legal affairs committee of Bulgarian Parliament passed on March 8 a bill of amendments to the Dossiers Act that would allow the country's commission on the declassification of communist-era State Security files to investigate credit millionaires.
The term refers to individuals who took loans from banking institutions set up in the 1990s (some of the most notorious cases involved the owners of the banks themselves), but never paid them back, effectively siphoning off wealth amid Bulgaria’s post-communist turbulence.
According to the head of the dossiers commission, Evtim Kostadinov, who was heard by the parliamentary committee, the number of credit millionaires could reach up to 50 000 people, given how often the companies taking bad loans from banks in the 1990s had multiple shareholders.
Bulgarian National Bank's list of companies with outstanding debts has about 10 500 companies and the dossiers commission will need time to identify the individuals who controlled the companies.
"In the end, the commission will make public the names of people who made the managerial decision to take a loan," Kostadinov said, as quoted by website mediapool.bg.
First, however, Parliament must pass the amendments that would add credit millionaires to the list of categories of people whose identities may be revealed publicly. The dossiers commission can start announcing names two months after the amendments enter into force.
Between April 2007 and the beginning of December 2001, the commission checked 112 445 people, of whom 6377 were found to have been associated with Bulgaria's communist-era State Security. On average, institutions checked had about 10 per cent of people with dossiers. Some had notably high proportions – the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.