Christo Georgiev, Bulgarian owner of the Maltese Satabank, has filed a SLAPP suit in a court in Bulgaria for monetary compensation for damages he alleges he suffered as a result of a blog post published on this website.
The blog post published in October 2018 was headlined “Satabank: And how I let them bully me into silence” and was posted around the time accounts of Satabank’s clients were frozen after the intervention of the Malta Financial Services Authority.
The offending blogpost on this page spoke of my regret that I pulled down an earlier post published on this website in March 2018 reporting on allegations of money laundering at Satabank. I had removed the first blogpost after Christo Georgiev threatened me through his Maltese lawyers with a SLAPP suit that his lawyers suggested would be so overwhelmingly expensive that it would drive me to suicide.
In the October 2018 blog post I wrote “I do not feel vindicated that seven months later the Maltese police are acting on information I published in March. I only feel embarrassment for having agreed with Satabank to retract my story on them. I buckled under their pressure and in doing so I effectively helped them to continue with what they were up to until reality and better journalists at the Times of Malta caught up with them. I can only hope I’ve learnt my lesson and this experience will help me trust that little bit more the courage of my own convictions.”
At the time and since Christo Georgiev made no response to this article and made no attempt to clarify his position.
In an informal translation from the original Bulgarian of the case filed in Varna, Bulgaria, Christo Georgiev claims this website has “led the case before all judicial instances, until its completion by a final court judgement”.
The complaint refers to a quote in the October 2018 blogpost where I write about “the personal record of Satabank’s owner Christo Georgiev and the investigations he was facing by various police forces around the world while being sheltered here in Malta by Joseph Muscat’s government.”
An order by the District Court of Varna in Bulgaria requires me to respond to this complaint within a month.
SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) are intended to use overseas action in courts to make it unaffordable for journalists to defend themselves when reporting on corrupt or criminal activities of companies or their owners. The intention is to achieve a “chilling effect” and force journalists to drop investigations into companies and businesses that can afford to sue them in other jurisdictions.