16 May 17 / 13:12:13

Reaction to Article: The Coyote’s Trail – A Machine Gun’s Path from Serbia to Syria

Dear Madams/Sirs,

In the light of the revealed information in “The Coyote Trail…” on 09.05.2017 and deepening trends towards publishing “fake news”, as managing director of BIEM JSC – the company quoted by Mariya Chereheva and team – I believe it is necessary to express my position on the tendentiously presented data that gravely lowers the reputation of our company and its stakeholders.

Unfortunately, the published material is no different from daily tabloid publications and bears the same flavour of incomplete, incorrect and fake information.

On the following points, here is my position:

  1. In carrying out its operations, BIEM JSC company strictly follows the requirements of applicable international and national legislation. When it comes to the international arms trade with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as you have mentioned, traders are our NATO partners, such as the US, France, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, etc. Quote: “This pipeline has pumped up to a 1.2 billion euros of weapons…” It is not clear which “pipeline” is concerned here, and there is no distinction that this is not the case with BIEM JSC, which is a prerequisite for easily misleading readers and the audience. I have to strictly point out that BIEM JSC has no contribution to this volume[flow of weapons]and, apart from that, for the whole period of its existence, BIEM JSC has not come near to such a volume [of deliveries] in its operations.
  2. For the concrete deal, BIEM JSC bought items based on contractual relations with “Zastava Arms” – Republic of Serbia.  This deal was licensed by the competent authorities of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Bulgaria. The company I represent has no relations with the end user of the goods. They were sold on the grounds of a signed contract with another licensed Bulgarian firm, and with that our participation in the deal ended. BIEM JSC is not an exporter of items to their end user, and this is a grave and misleading factual mistake. Everything else in the publication presented about the deal is tendentious and misleading.
  3. Mr Mandzhukov is the owner and main shareholder in BIEM JSC, but since 2001 he has not participated in the operational management of the enterprise, and does not prepare or sign any documentation related to the operational activities of the company. Those are the duties of the executive director, which is visible from public and well-known information. Until 2010, the company was managed by Krasimir Krastev, and since 2011 it has been managed by me. Precisely for this reason, I cannot accept the connection of Mr Mandzhukov’s name with the concrete deal, which I consider was made deliberately and with the tendentious aim of discrediting the authority and the name of the main stakeholder.

With the aim of defending the internationally proven good reputation of our company and our nearly 25-year-experience in the field of trading with defence-related products, I consider it my duty not to accept and to firmly dismiss the presented false facts and errors. The article lowers the prestige of one of the successful Bulgarian trade companies, which has continuously followed Bulgarian and European legislation. We have witnessed ill-intentioned and incorrectly presented circumstances and suggestions, which raise doubts about the impartiality and the objectivity of the publication.

I expect this letter to be published on your page in a timely manner, while we are maintaining our right to defend our rights in any legal way with the aim of cleaning the name of the company and its shareholders and compensating the moral, material and business damages that have been caused.

With Respect:

Stefan Penchev

Executive Director

Click here to read the original letter in Bulgarian.

Click here to read BIRN statement on this reaction.

Reaction to:

Investigation 09 May 17

The Coyote’s Trail – A Machine Gun’s Path from Serbia to Syria

A batch of heavy machine guns travelled from a Serbian state-owned factory to Syrian rebels, via a Bulgarian arms tycoon and a Saudi training camp, BIRN and OCCRP can reveal.

Ivan Angelovski, Jelena Cosic, Lawrence Marzouk, Maria Cheresheva