Construction contractor Veliko Zhelev has been detained in a coercion case for 24 hours, Mediapool has learned.
This happened after an action by the Ministry of the Interior in his office in the center of Sofia, meters from the former Tsar’s Palace.
According to information from BNT, Veliko Zhelev used violence and forced his employee to sign documents with false content.
The office on Tsar Osvboditel Boulevard in the capital was searched in his presence.
One of the iconic buildings for old Sofia – the former headquarters of the DZI on “Tsar Osvoboditel” Blvd. became the property of Veliko Zhelev in 2020. He bought it through his company “Maveli” for 10.85 million euros from the widow of the murdered businessman Emil Külev – Vesela .
Veliko Zhelev is the owner of a number of construction companies, the largest of which is Hidrostroy.
During the time of the NDSV and DPS government, he was briefly the head of the road agency. The rise of his construction empire began during the government of Sergey Stanishev, but it entered the top three under GERB, after in 2016 it acquired Vodstroy 98, which was associated with DPS MP Delyan Peevski, which it renamed VDH.
After this deal, Zhelev entered road construction. He built the Northern Express Tangent of Sofia for over BGN 150 million – an object of pride and bragging by former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Last week, the Minister of Regional Development Arch. Ivan Shishkov announced that a third of the asphalt on this highway-gauge road is missing, after taking several samples from the section in front of the media.
In February, API paid off the debt owed to Zhelev’s companies related to the construction of the Hemus highway. He won the construction of two sections with public procurement, which were put into operation, and is currently building according to the scheme with the in-house contract from “Automagistrali” as a supplier of materials and equipment.
Hours before it became known about the arrest of the construction contractor, the prosecutor’s office announced that it had requested information about the construction of the Northern Express Tangent, as well as about the “Hemus” highway.
The Hemus investigation is a separate story, but in the past, former interior minister Boyko Rashkov hinted that Zhelev might be connected to the irregularities in this project. Rashkov spoke of a “big and tough” builder who transferred over BGN 20 million to the United Arab Emirates at the very beginning of the Hemus investigation, when several construction companies were searched.
Even after the fall of GERB from power, Veliko Zhelev managed to finalize and sign the contracts for the construction of a section of the “Veliko Tarnovo – Ruse” highway for about BGN 1 billion including VAT, as well as for the tunnel under Shipka – for BGN 350 million. The two objects are being built with European funds under the “Transport” program 2021 – 2027. The objects are currently being designed, as they are under engineering.
VDH is currently repairing the route of tram No. 5 in Sofia in the section from the “Ovcha Kupel” quarter to Kniazhevo. It is financed by the operational program “Regions in growth” 2014 – 2020 and must be completed by the end of the year so that the European funds are not lost.
For Summer 2023, the so-called “road trumpet” of Burgas, which is also run by companies connected to Veliko Zelev. The five-kilometer bypass of Burgas costs BGN 57 million including VAT, and the funds come from the state budget.