Bulgaria Former Forestry Head Charged with Criminal Breach of TrustCrime | August 7, 2009, Friday // 17:14| views
Stefan Yurukov, former head of the Forestry Agency, may get up to 10 years in jail over criminal breach of trust. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria's notorious former Forestry Agency Director, Stefan Yurukov, has been charged with criminal breach of trust leading to large-scale damage for the state.
Yurukov is on a bail, according to the official announcement of the Sofia Prosecutor's Office.
Thus, Yurukov has become the first top-level former Bulgarian official to be charged after the new Bulgarian government of Prime Minister Borisov and the GERB party took office at the end of July 2009.
Yurukov is charged with sealing swap deals with state-owned lands that brought losses to the Bulgarian state. The prosecutors are focusing on a specific large-scale deal for swapping state lands near the Black Sea resort of Sozopol for lands in the interior of the country but the investigation is expected to reveal other similar abuses. The exact value of losses incurred to the Bulgarian state is still unclear.
He could be sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in jail if found guilty. On August 3, 2009, Georgi Kostov, Yurukov's successor, said that a total of 33 000 decares of state-owned land had been swapped in scandalous deals since 2003.
Bulgaria's new government of PM Borisov and the GERB party removed Yurukov from office on July 29. Yurukov had assumed the position in September 2007.
Yurukov became notorious for sealing swap deals with state-owned lands that appeared to be to the detriment of the Bulgarian state.
In just 10 days before the Forests Act came into force on January 26, 2009, Yurukov approved 47 land swap deals in which state-owned land at top resort locations around Bulgaria were valued at BGN 0,24 - BGN 27 per square meter; at the same time, their market value was about EUR 100 per square meter.
The Borisov government replaced Yurukov with Georgi Kostov, who is a department head at the Forestry University in Sofia.
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