Bulgaria: Update to BGR27754. FE of 28 August 1997 on the existence of an organization called Security Insurance Company (SIK or SIC); location of the organization's activities and the response of the Bulgarian authorities to these; confirmation of state witnesses testifying against its activities in court proceedings (1997-2003)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||2 April 2003|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BGR41338.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bulgaria: Update to BGR27754. FE of 28 August 1997 on the existence of an organization called Security Insurance Company (SIK or SIC); location of the organization's activities and the response of the Bulgarian authorities to these; confirmation of state witnesses testifying against its activities in court proceedings (1997-2003), 2 April 2003, BGR41338.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/485ba85532.html [accessed 10 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
In addition to the sources identified in BGR27754. FE of 28 August 1997, two other sources referred, in February 2001, to a Bulgarian organization called SIK (AIM 16 Feb. 2001; Bulgarian Radio 2 Feb. 2001).
SIC was reported as having a presence in Sofia, in 1997 (BTA 11 Mar. 1997), and in Ruse, in 2001 (AIM 16 Feb. 2001).
Reporting in 1997, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) cited sources as alleging that the Security Insurance Company (SIC) was a Bulgarian organization that originated from the criminal underworld, and that it got its start as an insurance company with "dirty money" after the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria in 1989 (11 Mar. 1997). Two sources, writing at the same time as the BTA, associated the SIC with the Bulgarian mafia (Wired Magazine Nov. 1997; IIPA 20 Feb. 1996).
In 2002, one source linked SIC with the smuggling of goods subject to excise taxes (Sofia 24 Chasa 6 June 2002), and, as early as 1996, the Bulgarian mafia was said to control the distribution of pirate videos through SIC (IIPA 20 Feb. 1996). A Sofia-based journalist, writing on organized crime in Bulgaria in a 1997 issue of the East European Constitutional Review, noted that "[n]ot a single shipment of [sugar] can be unloaded at a Bulgarian port without the unofficial permission of SIC" (Fall 1997). A 1997 source mentioned that SIC, trying to create a better public image, "made donations to hospitals and soup kitchens and expressed willingness to sponsor the tank brigade stationed in the Sofia suburb of Gorna Banya as the Bulgarian army lacks enough money to keep conscripts properly fed" (BTA 11 Mar. 1997). The same source also reported that SIC was believed to be involved in racketeering and extortion (ibid.).
In 1997, the BTA indicated that Bulgarian authorities, through the Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, intended to try to differentiate between the "legal and the illicit activities" of companies like SIC by giving them the opportunity to "'pay all their delinquent taxes so as to be legitimated in the eyes of the public'" (11 Mar. 1997). The BTA also referred to the independent weekly, 168 Chassa, which reported that the police had caught SIC office chiefs in the act of extortion in Sofia (11 Mar. 1997).
Three sources, reporting in 1999 and 2001, referred to the "former" SIC (Coalition 2000 4-10 Sept. 1999; Sofiaecho.com 19-25 Jan. 2001; Sofia Standart News 14 Dec. 2001), which is believed to have reinvested its assets in another organization called Bul Ins. (Coalition 2000 4-10 Sept. 1999).
The Research Directorate did not find any additional references to SIC for 2002, nor any for 2003, among the sources consulted. Information on state witnesses testifying against SIC's activities in court proceedings could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Alternative Information Network (Alternativna Informativna Mrea, AIM). 16 February 2001. "Crime in Bulgaria Out of Control."
Bulgarian Radio [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 2 February 2001. "Bulgaria: Changes Within Interior Ministry Announced." (BBC Worldwide Monitoring/NEXIS)
Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) [Sofia]. 11 March 1997. "Law Enforcers Corner Shady Businesses."
Coalition 2000 [Sofia]. 4-10 September 1999. Bulgarian Media on Corruption: Weekly Review. "Insurance Business."
East European Constitutional Review. Fall 1997. Vol.6, No. 4. Jovo Nikolov. "Organized Crime in Bulgaria."
International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA). 20 February 1996. "Excerpt from the IIPA Special 301 Recommendations, February 20, 1996: Bulgaria."
Sofia 24 Chasa [in Bulgarian]. 6 June 2002. Slavi Angelov. "Bulgarian Interior Ministry Proposes Measures Against Smugling." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0606 6 June 2002/WNC)
Sofiaecho.com. 19-25 January 2001. No. 3. Velina Dimitrova. "Bomb Blasts Rock Rousse During the Weekend."
Sofia Standart News [in Bulgarian]. 14 December 2001. Evgeniy Genov. "Military Counterintelligence Chief: Bulgarian Army to Create Anti-Terrorist Unit." (FBIS-EEU-2001-1214 14 Dec. 2001/WNC)
Wired Magazine. November 1997. Vol. 5, No. 11. David S. Bennahum. "Heart of Darkness."
Additional Sources Consulted
Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 1997, 1999-2003
Keesing's Record of World Events 1997-2002
Mondes rebelles : guérillas, milices, groupes terroristes 2001
World News Connection (WNC)
Internet sites, including:
Bulgarian News Network (BNN)
Corruption in Post-Communist Societies
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Search engines, including: