Bulgarian UN Official’s $ 3 Million Property Questioned
Irina Bokova, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), owns property in Manhattan worth more than US$ 3 million, reported the Bulgarian website and OCCRP partner Bivol.
Bivol questioned whether they could afford the property.After analyzing the family’s known income,
Bokova confirmed her campaign for the post of UN Secretary General, according to Russian News Agency TASS. The Financial Times described her as one of two strong candidates from Bulgaria, the other being Kristalina Georgieva, the current vice-president of the European Commission.
As UNESCO’s Director General, Bokova has promoted Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, in the role of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador despite a 2015 appeal by the European Centre of Press and Media Freedom for Aliyeva’s dismissal. According to their appeal, Aliyeva represents a country which failed in its commitment to UNESCO’s ideals and aims, which includes “protecting freedom of expression.” The Azerbaijani government has been widely criticized for imprisoning journalists and shutting down independent media organizations.
New York’s public property register showed Bokova paid US$ 2.4 million in cash for two apartments in Manhattan and that her son by a first marriage repaid his US$ 870,000 mortgage in four years.
According to records examined by Bivol, Bokova bought her first apartment in Manhattan on Nov. 6, 2012 for US$ 1,189,438, and apparently paid in a lump sum. There were no records of a mortgage or installment payments. Her husband, Kalin Mitrev, is listed as co-owner and Bokova’s son, Pavel Kolarov, was a proxy in the transaction.
Bokova’s family bought a second apartment on April 3, 2014 for US$ 1.225 million.
Kolarov was the first in the family to buy in New York. On Dec. 5, 2008, he took out a mortgage for US$ 870,000 to purchase an apartment near 5th Avenue. At the time, Bokova had just taken the UNESCO job on Nov. 15, 2009 according to UNESCO's website. The mortgage, taken out with JP Morgan, was paid in full on Oct. 4, 2012.
According to Bivol, Bokova earned US$ 780,000 for her entire term in office as Director General for UNESCO. In 2012, she sold two properties in Bulgaria netting US$ 380,000. In addition, serving four years as Bulgarian Ambassador in Paris on a salary of € 3,000 a month (US$ 3,260.82) and with no housing expenses, she could have saved as much as US$ 130,000 during her term there, Bivol calculated.
The website concluded that the entirety of her known income adds up to about US$1.3 million, the price of one of the Manhattan apartments.
Bivol further examined her husband’s income and assets. Mitrev was a longtime representative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Bulgaria. His net annual salary was comparable to that of his wife at UNESCO. In 2014 Mitrev sold a property in Bulgaria for US$ 160,000.
Bivol concluded that the total amount could cover the total investment in property in New York if the family had no other costs. It is not clear if the family had other income sources.