Bulgaria Tops List of EU Funds Fraud

Bulgaria in EU | July 7, 2012, Saturday // 17:16|  views

Bulgaria is consistently seen as a leader in the abuse of EU funds. File photo

Bulgaria is the most investigated country in the EU for abuse of EU funds, according to Johan Volt, spokesperson of the European anti-fraud office OLAF.

Speaking Saturday in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, he noted that there were 78 active probes in Bulgaria by the end of 2011, 60 of them in the farming sector, 10 in structural funds, and several Customs and other cases. The total number of probes by the end of 2011 was 463 and Bulgaria has the largest number of individual probes, according to him.

The spokesperson, however, appealed to Bulgarians to not focus on numbers.

"We have good partnership with Bulgarian authorities and the quality of their reports about possible fraud and abuse is overall a good one. Regarding the quantity of information, it depends on the sector to a certain extent. We have positive developments in the pre-accession funds. Regarding cohesion policy, the picture is not that clear, and we continue to monitor here; it is too early to make conclusions. It seems that the reports we are receiving do not cover all sectors; for example, we do not have enough information about the transport one," said he.

Volt noted that the report of the European Commission on Bulgaria under the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism is due in two weeks and OLAF always contributes to it.

"You, most likely, remember that the last such report from February stressed that in a large number of OLAF cases tried by the Court in 2011, the criminal liability has been replaced by administrative liability. The other important thing is that a very important fraud case is still idling in the Appellate Court. OLAF fully adheres to these two main conclusions," the spokesperson explained, adding the EC is preparing its own report for violations and suspicions of fraud, based on information from Member States sent to it or to OLAF.

The said report, coming in two weeks, lists the most violations in the structural funds.

"These funds are a major part of all EU expenses. If these expenses overall are affected by 1% fraud, in the structural funds the percentage is significantly higher. We further explain it with their complexity – they are managed by the Member States, including local authorities, leading to many levels of management and control, in addition of having many projects, mainly in regions with economic, social and administrative issues," he concluded.

In 2010, Bulgaria was also declared leader in the abuse of EU funds.

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Tags: Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, report, OLAF, structural, pre-accession, cohesion, violations, abuse, fraud, funds, EU, European Commission, probes


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