Toma Belev - Illegal Head of Association of Parks in Bulgaria
By its decision, the Sofia Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Sofia City Court, according to which Toma Belev managed The Association of Parks in Bulgaria (APB,) illegally. In his capacity as a director of Vitosha Nature Park, he had this right, but upon completion of a competition he was dismissed and was automatically deprived of the right to represent the Association, stated the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency. It specified that the proceedings in Sofia City Court were initiated based on an appeal lodged by the current management of Vitosha NP.
A study by Trud Newspaper found that the decision was not appealed by Mr. Belev himself and came into force with immediate effect. The reason was, that the former director of Vitosha Park did not submit the fee for appeal against the decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation on time and, upon expiry of the deadline, it came into force. This officially confirms that, since 2008 Toma Belev has illegally managed APB, commented legal advisors for Trud Newspaper.
It is recalled that the APB was established in 2003 by eight directorates of the state nature parks, in their capacity as legal entities. The Association Management Board consists of Park Directorates who are represented by their respective directors. They selected Mr. Belev as a chairperson, since at that time he was director of Vitosha Nature Park but not in his capacity as a physical entity.
According to the Non-Profit Legal Entities Act and APB Statute, a General Meeting, where a new Board of Directors and chairperson are elected, shall be held every 5 years. Such a meeting was not held in 2008, as specified by law, nor in 2013. Meanwhile, in 2012, Mr. Belev was discharged from his office as director of Vitosha NP upon completion of a competition. This meant that he was not entitled to represent the Association from then on, in the capacity of a director of Vitosha NP.
In 2014, two years after he ceased as head of Vitosha NP, Toma Belev convened a General Meeting to replace the Statute, with the purpose to appoint 15 physical entities, thus changing the voting ratio in his favour. Through this change, without being director of a park, Belev remained chairperson of the organisation, using the votes of his associates. That is exactly the General Meeting and its decisions appealed by the Vitosha NP Directorate which have been revoked by the judge panels of Sofia City Court and Sofia Administrative Court.
Since its establishment in 2003, the Association of Parks in Bulgaria has completed dozens of projects, and has purchased a significant number of properties in different areas of the country. At present, the Association of Parks in Bulgaria is a beneficiary of a project under the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme amounting to 4.7 million Swiss francs.
Over the years, it has turned out that the APB is the largest applicant of appeals against decisions rendered by the Ministry of Environment and Water. That is, the state directors of parks contest the decisions of the institution. This absurd situation has continued for almost 15 years.
"The decision of the Sofia City Court which is confirmed by the Sofia Court of Appeal and is not appealed to the Supreme Court of Cassation, definitively deprives Toma Belev of representative power", commented legal advisors for Trud Newspaper. In their opinion, this has a number of legal consequences which currently affect the representation of the NGO and will affect it for years in the future. As a result of the illegal representation, decisions and actions of the organisation will probably be declared illegal, according to the legal advisors for Trud Newspaper.