News

legal updates from VD&A

Here you will find the latest news from VD&A and its partners. The legal framework in Europe is extremely dynamic and one needs to monitor it constantly in order to ensure full legal compliance. Our lawyers are constantly taking part in different international legal symposiums in order to stay ahead of the forthcoming legislative amendments.

Applying for Bulgarian citizenship – the legal caveats

It’s obvious that the main goal of each and every applicant for Bulgarian citizenship is to get approved. On top of that, all applicants hope to get approved a.s.a.p. This is logical and understandable. Unfortunately, more and more would be Bulgarians are cutting some very important corners throughout the application process. Most of them don’t really realize that, as the Bulgarian legal system is unknown to them. Unfortunately the consequences can be harsh, really harsh.

What are the most common problems behind the rejected citizenship applications

In the last year we have been contacted by alarming number of clients who had their Bulgarian citizenship application stuck or rejected. What took us by surprise was not the big increase in rejected applications, but the fact that it was the applicants’ own fault in most cases.

So what did the applicants do so terribly wrong to have their citizenship applications grounded? And are there an other consequences for them, besides the rejection of the application.

We will list below the five most frequent reasons that we have encountered:

  1. Application for citizenship by origin with false certificate for Bulgarian origin – 41%;
  2. Citizenship by investment with exotic “investment” arrangements – 22%;
  3. Untrue declaration(s) during the naturalization procedures – 20%;
  4. Criminal or otherwise unclear (hard to verify) history record of the applicant – 6%;
  5. Sham marriages – 4%.

The harsh consequences – the Bulgarian Penal Code

The problem with most of the rejected applications was that the candidates have become victims of their ignorance of the Bulgarian legal system. Not only their citizenship was not approved, but in many cases, it was much worse. The Bulgarian authorities were investigating the provided documents and in some cases were planning to launch criminal proceedings.

Let’s sum up what the potential problems were for each of the above five categories.

False certificates for Bulgarian origin

In this category are falling mostly clients from Macedonia, Albania, Ukraine and Moldova. They were all victims of the unscrupulous internet “agents” who have lured them with the false promise that “everyone from their region is considered to be Bulgarian“. With low fees and “full guarantees”, the clients have signed up for the fake Bulgarian origin schemes. Consequentially they have been provided with fake certificates of Bulgarian ancestry.

And once these certificates, or other supporting documents, were used in Bulgaria, the applicants have committed criminal offence.

Whoever draws up a false official document or alters the content of an official document in order to be used, shall be punished for forgery of a document with imprisonment of up to three years.

Art. 308. (1) from the Penal Code

Whoever, alone or through another, draws up a false private document or alters the contents of a private document and uses it to prove that it exists or does not exist or that a right or obligation or a legal relationship has been terminated or amended shall be punished for falsifying a document with imprisonment of up to two years.

Art. 309. (1) from the Penal Code

Exotic financial schemes for citizenship by investment

The legal way to obtain citizenship by investment

As you all know, the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program requires an amount of either 512 000 EUR or 1 024 000 EUR to be invested in Bulgarian Eurobonds, stock-exchange-listed shares, etc. Unfortunately, as many citizenship enthusiasts don’t have such net-worth, they aggressively seek other “investment alternatives”. These are mainly the options to use credit facility in order to buy the bonds/shares on “margin”, thereby using the investment as collateral in order to finance it. It pretty much works like mortgaging your home. While this is legal, the government isn’t found of these practices.

The illegal “financial investments”

What the real problem is, is that some “agents” have invented all sort of “derivative” ways to circumvent the legal requirement to invest 512000 or 1024000 EUR. Instead of trying to arrange straightforward financing of the investment, they gave birth to all sort of “exotic financial arrangements”. Such “arrangements” are usually very beneficial for the “agents” as the citizenship applicant is basically left with worthless portfolio of junk “instruments”. These “instruments” or “investments” can be hardly resold (liquidated) for anything that comes even close to the amount they were purchased for. Such can be “investments” in “offshore insurance products”, real estate developments, offshore private equity, “startups”, unrated bonds, IPO’s, ICO’s, Ethereum, Bitcoin, etc.

False declaration and tax evasion

The main problem with such schemes is not only that they are a way to circumvent the investment criteria of the citizenship laws. Such circumvention is not immediately a criminal offense (in fact, this is not an offense at all, if done rightfully). Unfortunately however, in order for these schemes to work, the client is asked to sign a bunch of documents (contracts, declarations, credit or ease agreements, etc.) that very often fall in the category of “untrue declaration”. Many times, these also circumvent the tax laws in Bulgaria, which is punishable by the penal code.

As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t invested the full amount, required for the Bulgarian CIP and you don’t have a clear and straightforward credit agreement with reputable financial institution (ie bank), then you better contact your trusted lawyer.

Whoever confirms untruth or conceals truth in a written declaration or message sent electronically, which by virtue of a law, decree or decree of the Council of Ministers are given to a public authority to certify the truth of certain circumstances, shall be punished by imprisonment of up to three years or with a fine of one hundred to three hundred levs.

Art. 313 from the Penal Code

Whoever avoids establishing or paying more than 1534 EUR of tax liabilities, …. shall be punished by imprisonment of one to six years and by a fine of up to two thousand levs…
When the tax liabilities exceed 6136 EUR, the penalty is imprisonment for three to eight years and confiscation of part or all of the property of the offender.

Art. 255 from the Penal Code

False (untrue) declaration, shady past of the applicant and fake marriages

This is, as stated above, punishable under art 313 of the penal code.

Foreigners married to Bulgarian citizens need to sign declaration, that the marriage is not a sham marriage with the purpose to circumvent the immigration laws.

Declarations are also needed for the applicant’s past, criminal history, etc. Failure to provide accurate information may be punishable under art.313.

What to do if you believe you may have done something wrong during your citizenship application?

First of all, don’t panic. It is not always that if any of the scenarios above apply to you, you will be criminally prosecuted. In many cases, the authorities don’t dig too deep to start investigation.

Secondly, try to collect all documents that you have filed and signed to have them for your reference. If you find any serious irregularities, consult your trusted lawyer or liaise with us for assistance.

Posted by VD&A in News, Services, 0 comments

Promotional offer for Gold Club members

Our gold members from the USA can now enjoy 25% discount from all our member companies for the following services:

  • application for citizenship by origin;
  • application for citizenship by investment;
  • registration of Bulgarian NGO;
  • registration of Bulgarian company with VAT;
  • obtaining financial license type II.

The offer is valid for orders placed until 31.08.2020 and may be ended without notice.

To apply, please contact your personal manager and mention promo code: GM2020USA.

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Another success for Hristo Vassilev’s Law Office

Lawyer Hristo Vassilev and his team achieved new success in the protection of the interests of our clients. They successfully completed an important case before the Supreme Court of Cassation of Bulgaria. On behalf of a client, the team successfully won a complex case in proceedings before a third/cassation instance (Supreme Court of Cassation of Bulgaria).

Hristo Vassilev’s Law Office

Lawyer Hristo Vassilev is a leading lawyer in the field of labor law. More about his law office, can be found here.

About the case…

So what was the case about?

The claim

The claimant, a client of the law firm, submitted claims with legal grounds art. 344, para 1, item 1, item 2 and item 3 of the Labor Code (LC) for cancellation of the termination of the employment relationship on the grounds of art. 325, para 1, item .9 of the Labor Code (LC), for recovery of the previously held position, for payment of compensation for the loss of employment as a result of the illegal dismissal before the Sofia District Court.

The claim referred to the cancellation of illegal termination of employment under Article 325, item 9 of the Labor Code. The lawyers from the law firm told us that this hypothesis usually consists of three elements that must exist cumulatively, namely:

“The first is the inability of the employee to perform the work assigned to him/her due to illness, which lead to permanently reduced working capacity or to health contraindications. The second element is a conclusion of the Territorial expert medical commission (TEMC) or National Expert Medical Commission (NEMC), which contains the disease or the relevant health indications and it is explicitly stated that this condition makes it impossible for the employee to perform a specific job under the employment contract. The third element is the lack of other suitable work for the employee in the company.”

At the very beginning of the case, attorney Vassilev stated the absence of the third element. He expressed this lack in the claim. In the case, the employer unilaterally decided that the vacancies were not suitable for the employee (the client of lawyer Vassilev), without informing her what are these positions. The dispute had to be resolved by a health commission. However, the employee was deprived of the right to dispute this.

Decision of the Sofia District Court

In its decision, the Court of first instance, without even having the necessary special knowledge and without appointing an official expertise, accepted the employer’s assessment. The court confirmed that the dismissal was legal. The team of lawyer Vassilev were of the opposite opinion. They appealed the court’s decision.

Decision of the Sofia City Court

These arguments were shared by the appellate court in its decision. However, convinced of the legal right of his client, lawyer Vassilev and his team continued to protect the interests of their client before the cassation (last) instance.

Appeal before the Supreme Court of Cassation

After a precisely prepared cassation appeal, the Supreme Court of Cassation allowed the appeal for consideration. The court scheduled the case. After hearing the defense of lawyer Vassilev, the court announced the case for decision

JUSTICE

The justice has been restored by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Cassation. In its decision, the Supreme Court of Cassation fully shared the arguments of lawyer Vassilev and CANCELED the decision of the Sofia City Court, which confirmed the decision of the Sofia District Court. Instead, the Supreme Court of Cassation announced the dismissal of lawyer Vassilev’s client for illegal. The Supreme Court  recovered the illegally fired employee on work. Along with this, the Supreme Court SENTENCED the employer to pay to lawyer Vassilev’s client compensation for illegal dismissal as well as legal interest.

You can read the full court decision HERE. You can also find additional information about the case in Bulgarian HERE.

Posted by Neli Minkova in News, 0 comments

Alexander Dobrinov @ Uglobal webinar Vietnam

Citizenship vs Residency – which is better

Since 2019, we are experiencing huge investment interest from Vietnamese customers. Logically, the vast majority of the clients are inquiring about the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program.

In line with the fresh boost from Vietnam, our representative Mr Dobrinov took part in the investment citizenship webinar, organized by Uglobal.com. You can find more information about the event and the speech of Mr Dobrinov (in both English and Vietnamese at https://posolstvo.eu/blog/dobrinov-panelist-uglobal-vietnam/.

You can also preview the Vietnamese panel on youtube.

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Our agenda for 2020 (after the covid-19)

travel Bulgarian passport

Change of our lawyers travel plans for the second half of 2020

Dear Friends and Clients,

Due to the outbreak of the covid-12 and the worldwide travel restrictions, our lawyers are rescheduling their travel agenda for the second half of 2020.

Subject to the travel restrictions being lifted, our current agenda for visiting international clients is as follows:

City, Countryfrom (first day)to (last day)Remarks
Dubai, UAE02.09.202004.09.2020
Lagos, Nigeria06.09.202006.09.2020exclusive for Gold Club members
Cape Town, South Africa07.09.202009.09.2020
Kiev, Ukraine12.10.202013.10.2020seminar will be held both days; no clients meeting will be scheduled
Moscow, Russia18.10.202021.10.2020
Hong Kong02.11.202005.11.2020seminar will be held the first day
Doha, Qatar07.11.202007.11.2020exclusive for Gold Club members
West Palm Beach, FL, USA16.11.202017.11.2020exclusive for Gold Club members
Geneve, Switzerland23.11.202023.11.2020

All interested clients are kindly requested to contact us at their earliest convenience to book an appointment.

If there are any changes due to the further development of the covid outbreak, we will contact all affected clients accordingly.

update [01.08.2020] – So far, our planned meetings abroad for the first half of 2020 have been greatly affected by the travel restrictions due to the covid-19. All clients have been informed accordingly. However, please be sure to check the travel conditions for entering each country where a meeting is held, to avoid problems at the border or even at boarding the plane.

Stay safe!
VD&A

Posted by VD&A in News, 3 comments

The Bulgarian Law of Emergency – scary or life-saving?

covid19 in Bulgaria - emergency law

The Emergency Law in the State Gazette

The Bulgarian Emergency Law was published in the State Gazette on March 24th, 2020. Most of its provisions come into force retroactively – on March 13, 2020. Some of the provisions are applied from March 24, 2020.

We will try to briefly introduce you the most important changes that affect directly the largest groups of people and legal entities in Bulgaria. There are some important changes that will have effect on our lives over the next few months.

So, is the Law limiting our human rights or it is protecting our health in the first place? We will leave it to you to decide for yourself.

Bulgarian doctors and nurses

We will start with our dedicated and courageous “warriors” who are fighting the war of life and death – our doctors and nurses. We have the deepest respect for their dedication and ultimate sacrifice.

The law does not contain any specific sections as to how the health care providers will be working during the emergency state. The widely expected (and promised) monthly payroll increase of BGN 1000 is not mentioned explicitly. The Government and the Ministry of Health are responsible for keeping their promise. We will have to see whether this will be enacted. We can only say that during these difficult times, we must fully support the efforts of our medical personnel.

In order to avoid any interruption of the power supply, all medical establishments (ie hospitals) should check their premises to have uninterrupted power supply. This will be done by the state institutions, as well as by the telecommunication operators. The law grants all powers to health inspectors who will make similar inspections nationwide.

New rights and responsibilities for the Bulgarian army

The army already has the same authorities as the police forces in terms of verifying and establishing the people’s identities. The same applies for restricting the movement of the citizens. The army can also detain persons who have violated the quarantine conditions. The army can only use force when it is absolutely necessary.

Measures and restrictions

For non-compliance with the measures and restrictions imposed by the Minister of Health, the fine for individuals is BGN 5000. The fine for sole-traders and legal entities (ie LTD) is BGN 15000.

False alerts and telephone calls

According to the new amendments to the Bulgarian Criminal Code, for false alerts and calls you can be imprisoned for up to 3 years and fined with BGN 1000 to BGN 10000. For false alerts leading to more serious consequences – the imprisonment is up to 5 years and the fine is up to BGN 50000.

Penalties for breach of the quarantine

There are serious penalties foreseen for non-compliance and violation of quarantine. For persons who give a positive test for a coronavirus and do not comply with the quarantine – the fine is set at BGN 50000. The same applies to all persons who have had contacts with the infected person, as well as to those arriving from abroad.

With 50 to 500 BGN will be fined those who refuse to undergo a medical test.

Strict compliance with the mandatory isolation will be monitored by the Ministry of Interior. The police forces may use the data from the mobile operators of the location of persons reported to be in breach of the quarantine. It is not yet clear how and who will decide whether to use this data. Mobile operators have not yet commented on the procedure already voted on.

Important for the businesses

The State of Emergency Act allows business owners to organize their work remotely. Employers are now allowed to place their employees on annual leave without their consent.

Assistance is provided by the NSSI (the Bulgarian social security institute) for businesses that have ceased operations due to the state of emergency. For up to 3 months, the NSSI will take up to 60 percent of the employees’ salaries in order to keep their jobs.

The deadline for filing corporate tax returns is extended to 30 June 2020. The same applies to the income of individuals from taxi services, to income for which a patent tax is due, to loans received, etc.

The annual financial statements, consolidated accounts and annual reports may be submitted by 30 September. Declarations by sole traders – until June 30.

Important for employees

The law gives employers the right to place paid employees on a paid leave. This can be half of the annual leave, or about 10 days. Employers have the right to work from home without the consent of their employees. They are not entitled to refuse paid or unpaid leave for mothers, single fathers or adoptive parents of children up to 12 years of age, pregnant women or those in advanced treatment, workers with reduced working capacity and serious illness.

Individuals’ annual tax returns are filed by April 30th. Those who file the returns by March 31st will be entitled to a discount.

Banks

No freezing of bank accounts of individuals and medical establishments may be imposed until the state of emergency is lifted.

There will be no consequences arising from late payment on the obligations of individuals, including interest and penalties for late payment, as well as non-monetary consequences such as early payment, contract termination and seizure of property.

Judicial institutions

The procedural time limits for judicial, enforcement and arbitration proceedings are suspended. Only the time limits in criminal proceedings remain untouched by the law.

More important deadlines extended

The deadline for paying real estate and vehicle taxes at a discount of 5% is extended to 30 June.

The expiry of the Bulgarian identity cards is also extended until November 30.

The medicines of the chronically ill, written on the health insurance fund and the term of their protocols are extended until the end of the year. This means that pharmacies can only dispense their medicines with a prescription booklet without presenting a prescription. The latest medications listed are taken into account.

The attorneys at VD&A and the law firm Hristo Vasilev

First and foremost: stay safe at home, very healthy and mobilized during these times of hardship. Human life comes first! Staying at home will not only save yourself, but your beloved ones. Follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the services that are fighting the contagion in Bulgaria. This is a battle in which we must all get involved. Only in this way will we be able to “break the spine” of the epidemic, which is trying to take away everything we love and fight for.

In view of the global pandemic and the current situation, all VD&A attorneys and associates will continue to provide legal assistance and advice, with preference on providing services online.

For legal assistance and assistance you can write to us at the following emails:

p.petrova@bglaw.eu

n.minkova@bglaw.eu

You can also call us at the following numbers:

+359 884127525

+359 899812996

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Online visa application assistance during the covid-19 crisis

Bulgarian visa support during the corona virus quarantine

Posolstvo.eu is providing 24/7 support to foreigners in Bulgaria who need to prolong their visa or visa-free allowed term.

Residency permit support

Citizenship and Investment LTD, the company behind Posolstvo.eu, is also assisting foreign nationals to obtain Bulgarian immigration visa D, long-term and permanent residency permits in Bulgaria during the state of emergency in Bulgaria, which is initially set to continue until 13.04.2020.

Bulgarian citizenship during the state of emergency

The Bulgarian citizenship by investment program at the same time is going without any changes. Due to the coronavirus quarantine, the citizenship interviews are postponed for after April 13th 2020.

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Coronavirus alert for Bulgarian citizenship candidates

The Bulgarian government is taking new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Please read more about the latest statement by the Ministry of Justice.

In short, all procedures related to the applicants’ final application for Bulgarian citizenship are put on hold until April 13th, 2020.

All other procedures (that are required to be carried out prior to the final citizenship application) remain out of the scope of the measures. Such procedures are for example investments, permanent residency applications, visa D, etc.

We will be assisting all our clients who are affected by the above measures to reschedule their citizenship interview at the soonest possible date after 13.04.2020.

We remain fully at the disposal for all our clients, including those of countries with high risk of coronavirus infection (ie China, Iran).

For any information or need for assistance, please contact us at once.

Posted by VD&A in News, 1 comment

The Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program – March 2020 update

Is the Bulgarian CBI going to change?

Alexander Dobrinov in Hong Kong

The Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program is without any doubt, the most favorable among all other EU CBI programs. And while it is the least known and least marketed among the three (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta), it is the only one that has so far, resisted the “friendly fire” from the EU authorities to have its conditions tightened.

But will it be able to hold for much longer, or the Bulgarian government (and the parliament) will bend knee under the criticism of the European Commission? And if it bends, how far will it go? Will it increase the investment requirement, which is far below its other EU peers? Or will it introduce much more serious “bond with the country” requirement? Or will it invent another hurdle for the citizenship investors? Or maybe it simply do nothing…

One thing is certain though – the Bulgarian CBI is likely to still remain, if changed at all, the most affordable fast-track EU citizenship by investment program.

To have a better idea of what the perspectives for the Bulgarian program are, please read a very informative article by Mr Dobrinov on the website of Uglobal. You can also download the article in PDF format.

If you have any questions

For any questions you might have, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our lawyers are at your disposal to meet your “citizenship needs”.

You may also leave your comments below (subject to moderation and GDPR compliance).

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Legal assistance to MVNOs around the world

gsm towers
Mobile telecommunication towers construction above. While MVNOs don’t bother with the construction work, they are facing many other challenges ahead.

MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) may be the future in the low-end price segment of the mobile communications. But in our, more and more bureaucratic world, the legal challenges are becoming a “deal-breaker” for many.

We are offering consultancy and legal assistance to different Mobile Virtual Network Operators around the world

The world is going virtual and MVNOs don’t have to deal with base stations construction, radio engineering or site acquisition.

The mobile network operators (MNO) have already done the hard job.

At the same time however, when the MNOs were building their network infrastructures, they had the comfort of charging fees, which are now hard to comprehend. The legal framework, in the times when most of the mobile networks were created, was also somewhat more relaxed than it is now.

We are not MVNE (Mobile Virtual Network Enabler).

We are offering assistance to MVNOs and to MVNEs to deal with their (predominantly) legal issues.

Students from Kyiv

Did you know that….

During the roll-out of the major MNOs in Ukraine, the country didn’t have radio-engineering faculty and as a consequence, no qualified radio engineers. Such issues were to be solved by the MNOs.

Why choose us?

We know how the MNO, MVNO and the MVNE business models function

Throughout our history, we have been deeply involved in the specifics of the telecommunication sector. We believe to be extremely well aware of how the mobile networks were rolled out and what challenges they all had to face in the beginning. We have experienced first-hand, the birth of the first MVNOs and MVNOs and their later rapid growth.

During the years, we have been involved with major telecom players in Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Greece and Belgium.

After our expansion to Dubai, we are now aiming at closing deals with the new MVNO startups in Saudi Arabia that are planned to start rolling later in 2020.

Our interest in the Hong Kong market dates back for almost 10 years when the majority of the MVNO’s licenses were granted. Currently our lawyers are scheduling important meetings for the end of January 2020 in HK. And although the city is still struggling with the consequences from the mass protests that started in 2019, we see bright future in the telecom sector.

Invaluable legal assistance

For many, as MVNOs don’t have mobile network infrastructure to take care of and maintain, their operations are as easy as sending monthly invoices to their subscribers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The challenges the MVNOs are facing are endless. Software integration, development, marketing, and the list goes on and on. And all departments of a MVNO (and MVNE alike) have to deal with different legal issues on a daily basis. That’s where our legal expertise comes at hand.

We believe to have saved millions for our clients by improving their legal compliance and protecting them in times when they had to enter in legal disputes.

We think LEGAL, in Bulgaria and Worldwide

We are perfectionists when it comes to legal matters. And while our roots are buried deep in Bulgaria, our branches reach far beyond. Mobile operators and MVNO/MVNEs alike face international legal issues that span accross countries and continents. And we are most of anybody else capable of providing the best advice to their advantage.

We speak your language

We always try speaking the language of our clients – English, Russian, Dutch, German. But its not merely the language proficiency that matters. The core understanding of our customers’ problems, in the realm of the relevant legal framework, is what matters most.

We travel the World

We operate from Bulgaria, but we spend on international travel more (in terms of ratio to the revenue of course) than any other legal entity that we know of. We believe this to be essential part of our business model and the best way to fully assist our important clients.

You may wish to check our legal support and accountancy section or to contact us for further assistance.

Posted by VD&A in News, Services, 0 comments