Q: A family member died in Bulgaria and I am aware they had a property (and a company registered there). How do I go about acquiring it?
A: Where a person dies without leaving a valid will, Bulgarian law has rules about dividing the deceased’s estate between certain of his family members. Where the deceased has left a will, Bulgarian law would still set aside certain shares of the deceased’s estate (or at least such estate as is in Bulgaria) for certain close family members. These are known as ‘reserved shares’ and there are relatively simple rules determining whether they apply.
If your family member’s Bulgarian company owns the property of your deceased relative, and the company was itself solely owned by your deceased relative, you and any other heirs would need to declare before the Bulgarian Company Registry that you wish the company to continue trading. You and any other heirs would also have to apply to register as shareholders of the inherited company shares with the Company Registry. To do this, you need to present evidence of the death of your relative, as well as of your capacity as his or her heir(s).
If the family member was not the sole owner of the shares of the property-holding company, and there are other shareholders, you need to check if you can become a shareholder. This would usually depend on the provisions of the company’s Articles of Association and on the consent of the remaining shareholders. In case such shareholders refuse to let you (or other heirs) become shareholders, you will still be entitled to receive compensation. This would be equal to such part of the company’s net assets which is proportionate to your relative’s share in the capital of the company at the time of distribution.
Asset tracing and fraud: Use of evidence from parallel criminal proceedings in a civil trial
Over the last year, we have assisted the victims of a multi-million dollar large-scale international fraud. Certain of the scheme’s operations were embedded in Bulgaria’s thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) ecosystem.
As part of our representation for clients, we have pursued a claim in a regional Bulgarian court (the organisers of the fraudulent scheme having transferred the registration of the relevant entity to a disused building in that location). We were pleased to obtain a very helpful intervention from the court at first instance including an order to append files containing a substantial amount of evidence generated through a criminal investigation into the fraud to the civil case. This provides rich evidential pickings for proceedings which are either already being conducted or are being contemplated in a range of international jurisdictions as well as Bulgaria.
© New Balkans Law Office 2019