Nexo investigation is not political, Bulgarian prosecutors say

A spokesperson for Bulgaria’s chief prosecutors has denied claims that the investigation was prompted by the company’s political donations.

Siika Mileva, a spokesperson for Bulgaria’s chief prosecutors, has denied political motivations behind the probe against the crypto lending firm Nexo, according to local reports. The comments were made in response to claims that the investigation had a connection to the company’s political donations.

Almost all cases where a prosecution launches an investigation that affects someone’s financial interests results in attacks and accusations, Mileva said. “It has become a national sport to attack the institutions,” he added.

On Jan. 12, a group of prosecutors, investigators and foreign agents searched the company’s offices in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia. The operation targeted a large-scale money laundering scheme as well as violations of Russia’s international sanctions.

In less than 48 hours after Nexo’s offices were raided, four people were charged with money laundering, tax crimes, computer fraud and unlicensed banking. Two individuals were released on bail of nearly $550,000. The two others remain unfound in Bulgaria and have been declared internationally wanted persons. It’s unclear whether the individuals had a connection with the crypto firm.

According to Mileva, transactions carried out by Nexo amounted to $94 billion in a period of five years. An organized criminal group operating in several countries since the beginning of 2018 has been under investigation, noted the spokesperson.

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On Twitter, Nexo complained about the law enforcement raid and said it was preparing a lawsuit against for damages caused by the abrupt police interruption. The company classified the authority’s approach as “kick first, ask questions later”.

According to the company, investigators did not provide a search warrant for hours and never identified themselves to Nexo employees. 

Nexo operates an investment platform where users can stake and borrow against crypto. Although it has offices in Bulgaria, the firm does not provide services to the country’s residents due to potential regulatory issues. The company was founded in 2018 and has offices in the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

In December, Nexo announced it would phase out its United States operations due to a lack of clear regulatory cooperation with U.S. authorities.

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