Fugitive Austrian ex-boss of collapsed Wirecard tech firm is ‘mastermind of secret Putin spy ring in Britain including Bulgarian beautician which plotted abductions on UK soil from seaside B&B’, court hears
The fugitive ex-boss of collapsed tech firm Wirecard was the mastermind of a Russian spy ring in Britain which plotted to abduct individuals on UK soil, a court heard yesterday.
Five Bulgarians, three men and two women, are said to have worked with a ‘tasker’ named Jan Marsalek – an Austrian who became a wanted man in Germany after being suspected of a major company fraud.
His whereabouts are unknown and a ‘red notice’ has been issued by German authorities for his arrest, with reports suggesting he is now in Russia.
Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, Katrin Ivanova, 31, Ivan Stoyanov, 31, and Vanya Gaberova, 29, who are all Bulgarian nationals with EU settled status, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via videolink and spoke only to confirm their names and dates of birth.
Kathryn Selby, prosecuting, told the court the hub of the espionage activities was Roussev’s home in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where forged documents and a ‘significant amount of equipment involved in carrying out surveillance activity was recovered’.
Five Bulgarians, three men and two women, are said to have worked with a ‘tasker’ named Jan Marsalek – an Austrian who became a wanted man in Germany after being suspected of a major company fraud
Vanya Gaberova, 29 and 31-year-old Ivan Stoyanov appeared at the hearing via video links from prison
Fellow suspected spies (L-R) Orlin Roussev, 45, Katrin Ivanova, 31 and Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, were previously charged on February 11, 2023
Roussev lived in this guesthouse in the seaside town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk
The court heard all five defendants were arrested in February for offences contrary to the Official Secrets Act.
Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were charged and the other two held in Home Office detention. She said: ‘Following their arrest, searches were carried out at their home addresses and a large amount of fraudulent identity documents were found at the addresses of Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova.
‘Since then, an investigation into the use of those false documents has found they were used to open several false bank accounts.
‘At those addresses, Roussev’s in particular, a significant amount of equipment involved in carrying out surveillance activity was recovered. It is the Crown’s case that Orlin Roussev’s home was the base to carry out espionage involving surveillance of locations and individuals for the Russian state.
Alleged spies Katrin Ivanova (left) and Vanya Gaberova seen in an artist’s illustration as they appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via videolink
Alledged spies Orlin Roussev (left) Bizer Dzhambazov (centre) and Ivan Stoyanov seen in an artist’s illustration as they appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via videolink
‘This includes the potential abduction of some of these targets. Information was fed back to the UK and reporting was sent from the UK to a tasker on behalf of Russia, a person known as Jan Marsalek.
‘Given this case has a national security backdrop it should be dealt with in accordance with the terrorism protocol.’
The offence carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Dzhambazov and Ivanova, from north London, and Roussev are also charged with possession of false identity documents with improper intention, under section four of the Identity Documents Act 2010.
District judge Tan Ikram remanded all five in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on October 13.