June 4, 2020: Atanas Bobokov announced on June 3 that he had stepped down as CEO of Monbat, the Bulgarian and eastern European battery and recycling group. He remains as chairman of the board of directors.
This follows a 24 hour detention for Bobokov, his brother Plamen Bobokov, also a Monbat director, and Bulgaria’s deputy environment minister Krassimir Zhivkov on May 28, according to the Sofia News Agency and Bulgarian state television.
The three, with at least three others, are being investigated for alleged involvement in a crime group that is meant to have mismanaged hazardous waste, part of which has included lead product waste.
This has implicated activities in the Monbat recycling plant in Montana, Bulgaria, according to national newspaper Trud.
Atanas Bobokov’s official announcement on Wednesday (yesterday) said: To preserve the stability of the company Monbat AD, which I represent, as well as the investors’ trust, built through many years, I hereby declare my resignation from the position of CEO of Monbat AD.”
The Monbat group said that same day that it had appointed a second procurator of the company a new independent director Dimitar Kostadinov and appointed international law firm to Wolf Theiss, to conduct “an independent audit into the matters related to the ecological aspects of the company’s activity and compliance with Bulgarian and European legislations”.
The group had already made a lengthy declaration of its position on May 29, the day after the Bobokovis’ detention.
“Monbat does not process general waste (trash) and does not have such facilities,” the firm said. “The lead alloys coming out of the recycling plant are necessary to produce batteries. Given the high demand, the produced lead alloys have not been sold for export.”
Monbat said that it did import raw material — lead paste — from Italy which it said is categorized as hazardous material and as such, its transportation falls under strict regulation.
“Monbat is in possession of the necessary notification issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Waters which is a must for the transportation of this ‘paste’, and it is being transported predominantly with own transport vehicles,” the firm said. “Monbat has never been involved in transportation of refuse and/or trash and trucks, property of Monbat, have never been detained.
“The technological waste from the recycling, that cannot be further recycled, is deposited with a licensed operator. The activities of such license operators are fully regulated in compliance with the relevant legislation of Republic of Bulgaria and abroad.
“Any movement of this technological waste is always accompanied with transportation documentation, hand-over protocols, and invoices. All these primary accounting papers are properly documented and booked in the appropriate accounting and tax manners.
“There are no companies, owned and/or controlled, by Monbat which conduct business activities for depositing and utilization of the residue technological waste. Monbat is allowed to deposit residue technological waste only to licensed operators in full compliance with the regulations and in line with the economic justification for the company.”