AKEP Give Preliminary Approval to Sale of Telekom Albania to Bulgarian Company

AKEP, the Albanian electronic and postal communications authority has granted a preliminary approval for the sale of 99.75% of Telekom Albania to Bulgarian company Albania Telecom Invest.

The agreement is still subject to approval by the Albanian competition authority.

Telekom Albania is held by Greece’s OTE group who announced its intention to sell its entire stake to the Bulgarian company for a total of EUR50 million.

“Albania Telecom Invest AD is controlled by Mr. Spas Roussev, controlling shareholder of the Bulgarian incumbent telecom operator Vivacom, and by Mr. Elvin Guri, an Albania-Bulgarian investor,” OTE said in January.

Roussev is the main shareholder of Vivacom, one of Bulgaria’s biggest telecoms companies as well as having alleged links to the Bulgarian Mafia, criminal networks, Russian banks, and a cause of auction rigging in the UK.

His purchase of Viacom was subject to allegations of price fixing from Russian businessman Dmitir Kosarev who states that he was the majority owner of the company, having previously acquired shares from the fugitive Bulgarian businessman, Tsvetan Vassilev.

The businessman is considered to be one of the wealthiest people in Bulgaria who amassed his wealth after the fall of communism. He became an advisor to the first democratically elected president, Zhelio Zhelev in 1991 and then later to Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the exiled king who returned to Bulgaria and served as Prime Minister in 2001-2005.

Throughout his career, he has been subject to a number of controversies and has been referred to as the “right-wing’s oligarch” and the “Gray Cardinal”. He is suspected of connections with several figures from Bulgarian organised crime including van “the Doctor” Todorov, Vasil “the Skull” Bozhkov, and Petar “Amigos” Petrov.

In April 2003, a photo was leaked to the press that showed Roussev on his yacht with Petrov who was convicted of laundering EUR26 million, the then-finance minister Miroslav Sevlievsky, then-energy minister Lyubomir Minchev, and then-transport minister Plamen Petrov, former boss of Viacom. It was also discovered he had facilitated meetings between suspected crime lords and ministers including Boyko Borisov who was, at the time the Chief Secretary of the Minister of the Interior.

In 2012, Spas Roussev reportedly acquired the Radisson in Sofia with a loan from Unicredit bank that was alleged to have been approved by bribing the bank’s credit committee. His son, Evgeni Roussev was appointed as CEO of the hotel. According to one site, Evgeni has been convicted of multiple petty crimes such as drunk driving and drug consumption in public. It was also alleged that he was a “conman involved in numerous fraudulent schemes and organised crimes”.

Spas was quoted by Bulgarian media as saying “I can get any politician in Bulgaria on the phone”.

The deal is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

— Alice Elizabeth Taylor