Mystery surrounding the ownership of Bulgaria's Bansko ski resort- the biggest in the Balkans - was partially dispelled tuesday after former champion skier Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg was revealed he was the owner.
"I bought the Ulen company in 2016. Previously it belonged to a fund, which I bought it from," he said in an interview with the Nova TV station on Monday evening, but said reasons of "confidentiality" prevented him from giving any further details.
Bulgaria's environment ministry said that on Monday Girardelli, 55, furnished the government with documents showing that he owned the Tax Services Ltd fund, which controls Ulen and is registered in the British Virgin Islands.
"The fund is very big and is active on three continents. But there were a lot of harmful rumours which created a negative attitude towards Bansko and forced the fund to sell it," Girardelli said.
"The price was good value," he added.
Since 2000, Ulen has been investing in the resort to upgrade facilities at Bansko and by 2009 the resort was able to begin hosting races as part of the Alpine skiing world cup.
Bansko boasts 75 kilometres (46 miles) of runs and is one of the cheapest resorts in Europe.
However, its expansion in recent years has drawn criticism from environmentalists who say it has damaged the surrounding pine forests, as well as others who suspect corruption in the way the resort has been managed.
Girardelli, who is from Luxembourg and is an "honorary citizen" of Bansko, made his revelation as Ulen continues its efforts to get permission to build a second ski lift to ease queues among the approximately 150,000 visitors the resort pulls in every season.
"We are trying to develop the best skiing area in eastern Europe," Girardelli said.
"We have been trying for ten years to build a second lift and we haven't been able to," he said.
The current lift has an hourly capacity of 2,200 people, but the volume of skiers is such that queues can be up to three hours long.
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