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Bulgarian Fugitive Wanted In Several Countries Arrested In Kyiv After Years On The Run

Evelin Banev in an undated photo.
Evelin Banev in an undated photo.

A Bulgarian fugitive wanted in several European countries on money-laundering and drug-trafficking charges has been arrested in Kyiv after years on the run.

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry confirmed on September 10 that Ukrainian authorities had captured former wrestler Evelin Banev.

Ukraine’s National Police on September 7 announced it had arrested a man wanted on an Interpol notice but did not disclose his identity.

Banev was captured in a parking lot as he walked toward his car, according to a police video posted to YouTube.

Bulgaria said it is working on extraditing Banev to Sofia.

The 56-year-old was facing trials in three countries for money laundering and drug trafficking when he was last seen in public at a hearing in the Sofia Court of Appeals in September 2015.

Banev had been detained in Bulgaria in 2012 and handed over to Italian authorities for a trial in Milan. In Bucharest, Romanian authorities were also requesting his extradition on similar charges.

Then Italy allowed Banev to return temporarily to Sofia in 2015 in order to attend his Bulgarian trial.

That's when he disappeared, apparently fleeing and going into hiding before the authorities could return him to Italy or extradite him to Romania.

He's since been sentenced in absentia by an Italian court to 20 years in prison, by a Romanian court to 10 1/2 years, and more recently by a Bulgarian court, all for money-laundering or cocaine-smuggling offenses.

More recently, Swiss prosecutors in December indicted Banev along with Credit Suisse and one of the Swiss bank's former employees for allegedly helping to launder about $39 million of drug money through the bank.

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    RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service

    RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service relaunched in 2019 after a 15-year absence, providing independent news and original analysis to help strengthen a media landscape weakened by the monopolization of ownership and corruption.