Vasil “The Skull” Bojkov, the richest man in Bulgaria, is speculated to have been involved in mafia activity for quite some time. While some actions of his can possibly be mistaken for something more sinister, there is very little evidence to support these claims.
1989 was the year that communism fell in Bulgaria. This signified a desperate need for growth in economy and therefore it was a very good time for anybody to set up a business; Lachezar Bogdanov, manager of the Bulgarian economic think tank Industry Watch, stated that, “You could buy a three bedroom flat in Sofia for $4,000”. If everything was this cheap during that time, there would be no need to resort to criminal activity in the pursuit of wealth. Bojkov opened his first business, a currency exchange, in 1990 which very quickly developed into a chain due to these circumstances.
Along with two partners, Bojkov could then start a gambling company in 1991. From just one casino at the Hotel Rila in Sofia, this business erupted into essentially countless casinos throughout the country. This is especially intriguing because, despite the economic state, it would’ve taken a lot of careful planning and preparation to succeed like this. Bojkov had to put a lot of time, money and very dedicated hard work into his business and within a year, he had enough profit to open a holding company- Nove Holding. It envelopes over 30 companies today and that does not include its’ countless subsidiaries. One such company is Eurofootball, a betting agency that many know of. In 1994, he even opened his own bank called the Bulgarian Commercial Industrial Bank.
Many people may be suspicious as to how Bojkov acquired his curious nickname ‘The Skull’. Most might believe that it has something to do with his alleged criminal background, but in fact it has far more innocent roots. The nickname came from his childhood. As a youth, he was slender and bony which highlighted his facial features. Because of this, other children nicknamed him ‘Skull’ which caught on and is now used more humorously than anything.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding Bojkov is the peculiar idea that he is some kind of ‘mafia kingpin’; apparently, despite success from hundreds of other people in much harsher economic climates, one can only attain so much power through illegal means. True, the unfortunate coincidence of his nickname and status can seem unsettling, but there isn’t any evidence to show he’s done anything wrong in his entire 61 years of living. In fact his numerous acts of philanthropy suggest that these claims could not be further from the truth.
Some sources have brought up a leaked US CDA report in 2009 on the most wanted criminals in Bulgaria. While Vasil Bojkov is on this list, along with the Margin Brothers, the Beret and the Galev Brothers, there are numerous points to be addressed.
First of all, the report states that Bojkov is “moving out of the organised crime business”. If he was involved in the first place, which is very unlikely, this should show that he’s turning his life around. He could be trying to correct his wrongfully assigned reputation. He could be doing things in an entirely different context than what you would think. There is no evidence to support that he is anyone other than a hard working and opportunistic business man who worked his way to the top.
Secondly, the crimes ‘committed’ by him are very tame in comparison to the other criminal figures. Allegedly, he is involved with money laundering, racketeering and illegal antique dealing at worst. Not only is there such miniscule evidence for this, these crimes are nothing in comparison to horrible things like human trafficking, drug smuggling and contract killings committed by other authoritative figures in Bulgaria. There is pure speculation at most of any of these artefacts being illegal.
Thirdly, the antique dealing is both very hard to avoid and evidently, avoided as much as possible by Bojkov. He has an extraordinary collection of over 3000 artefacts depicting ancient Greek, Thracian and even some Roman history. The restoration of lost ancient Bulgarian culture is one of his main priorities and he has done a lot of work for the history and economy of Bulgaria.
One thing we know for sure about Bojkov is that he has a sense of humour. Smiling or chuckling when asked about his involvement with crime, most can see that he’s just pointing out the absurdity in the situation. With how hard he’s worked, how plausible his story is and no evidence to back up any allegations against him, can he really be as bad as people say? If anything, he is extremely determined and willing to do a lot for his goal; whether that be restoring history, supporting the Bulgarian emergency services or supporting himself financially.
Another fairly interesting thing about Vasil Bojkov is that he has never actually been brought to court. With no actual evidence of his ‘crimes’ throughout his 38 years of owning businesses, shouldn’t someone have found something by now?
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding what Bojkov has supposedly done in terms of organised crime, but his philanthropic actions tend to go unnoticed more often than not. For example, He has an entire fleet of jets & helicopters that are lent to the government in order to help with the exceedingly high crime rate and medical emergency services in Bulgaria. He has also dedicated years to his collection of ancient artefacts and restoring this history through exhibitions and books. There is so much he’s done for his country which can get ignored over something that probably isn’t true.
In fact, one of the biggest areas affected by Bojkov is sport. For instance, when he was chairman of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, Bulgaria was ranked 1st- for both men and women. When he was chairman of the Bulgarian Federation of Sports Shooting, three gold olympic medals were won. When he owned the CSKA football team, they even won against Liverpool in 2002. This just goes to show how integral Bojkov is as part of Bulgaria and a national treasure himself.