Notorious Bulgarian SAPARD Fraudster Faces 12 Years in Jail

Crime | July 16, 2012, Monday // 15:59|  views

Mario Nikolov. Photo by BGNES

Prosecutors are demanding that notorious Bulgarian businessmen Mario Nikolov be sent behind bars for twelve years on charges of large-scale SAPARD fraud in the amount of over EUR 7 M.

Sofia City Court sentenced Mario Nikolov and his wife to twelve and five years in jail respectively and now prosecutors are demanding that the Appellate Court uphold the verdict.

The case is considered a crucial test for Bulgaria's justice system, monitored by the EU and OLAF – the European Commission's anti-fraud office.

According to the indictment, the defendants created a secret association through which they sent millions from SAPARD to other companies controlled by Nikolov and Stoykov.

Nikolov and Stoykov were both sponsors of President Georgi Parvanov's campaign at the last Bulgarian Presidential Elections.

The legal process was provoked by revelations of OLAF, according to which a group of 60 Bulgarian, foreign and offshore organizations, linked with the previous government, led by Socialist Sergey Stanishev, had participated in tax fraud and money laundering.

The Nikolovs and several other defendants are also tried in another case for draining SAPARD funds, accused of having acted as an organized crime group and obtaining illegally, through fake documents, EUR 14 M in subsidies from SAPARD.

According to the indictment, the group stole the amount through document fraud in the period 2002-2005. The defendants were alleged to have used old meat processing equipment presenting it as new in order to get subsidies for a meat processing plant.

Nikolov claims he is a "scapegoat" for the malfunctioning judicial system in Bulgaria thus he is appealing both sentences.

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Tags: Krasimira Medarova, SAPARD, fraud, Sofia Appellate Court, Sofia City Court, OLAF, Mario Nikolov, Lyudmil Stoykov, embezzlement


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