Bulgaria's Turkish Leader Cynic, Untouchable in Bonus War - Analyst

Domestic | March 9, 2012, Friday // 18:02|  views

Ahmed Dogan, who is also member of parliament, is pictured here during his sole appearance in the National Assembly last year, which made headlines as a rare event. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria's ethnic Turks leader has unapologetically revealed himself this week as a cynic, who feels untouchable, a political analyst argues.

"Ahmed Dogan's statement that his fee (for consulting hydro energy projects while his party was in power) is not a bonus and he refuses to return it is very much in line with his style so far. His cynicism stems from his confidence that he is untouchable," Tihomir Bezlov commented on Friday for 24 Hours daily.

Earlier in the week Bulgaria's prime minister called on officials in previous governments to return all bonuses to help make up for the economic crisis. Ahmed Dogan refused to do so, even though his huge and controversial fee turned him into a defendant in a graft case.

In response to an earlier call by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, current officials have returned bonuses worth more than EUR 300,000.

"Borisov is winning the PR game, but Dogan does not seem to care," according to Bezlov.

"Dogan is patiently biding his time on the bench only to enter the political game and settle scores when the right moment comes," he commented.

A year ago Dogan was cleared of pocketing nearly one million euros from the state budget while in power, a high profile corruption trial that proved him to be untouchable.

Bulgaria's Supreme Administrative Court acquitted Ahmed Dogan for receiving huge consulting fees on hydro energy projects while his party was in power.

The court said there was no evidence that Ahmed Dogan had breached the public interest by receiving the fees.

The case was opened after the parliamentary commission on corruption notified it of a possible conflict of interest. Ahmed Dogan has been involved in large-scale political corruption schemes, has breached the conflict of interest provisions and has served private interests, according to the allegations.

The leader of the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), which was a member of the former three-way coalition cabinet, allegedly pocketed BGN 1.5 M as a consultant of four large-scale hydroelectricity projects, funded by the state - 'Tsankov Kamak', 'Dospat', 'Gorna Arda' and 'Tundzha' Dam.

The scandal erupted in May 2010 after a visit of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to the site of the hydroelectric power plant 'Tsankov Kamak', where he revealed that a huge hike in the initial price has been discovered.

The money for the hydro power plant "Tsankov Kamak", from where Dogan took the sky-high payment as an "expert," was paid by the state-owned National Electricity Distribution Company (NEK), left in tatters after the ruling of the previous cabinet.

Dogan holds a philosophy degree and has no qualifications in civil engineering.

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Tags: conflict of interest, hydro-power plant, Tsankov Kamak, Supreme Administrative Court, embezzlement, Ahmed Dogan, bonuses


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