Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister Subject to OLAF Probe for EU Funds Embezzlement

Bulgaria in EU | February 12, 2013, Tuesday // 12:39|  views

OLAF has launched an investigation on suspicions of EU funds embezzlement against Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov, according to sources in Brussels. Photo by BGNES

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is investigating Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov for EU funds embezzlement, according to sources in Brussels speaking on condition of anonymity.

The tip-off against Naydenov was received in Brussels on August 28, according to reports of Sega daily.

The case involves a sum of BGN 50 000 for popularizing the Rural Development Program on Facebook and Twitter, as well as another sum of BGN 50 000 for publishing the information in online forums for a year.

The public procurement procedures were announced in 2011 and were won by companies of former officials of the Public Relations unit at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria's Public Procurement Agency published on its website a public invitation for a new procurement contract worth BGN 50 000 for maintaining the same social network accounts.

The scandal flared up in the summer of 2012, when an investigation of Sega daily revealed that the previous public procurement contract had been signed without announcing an open tender procedure but by sending invitations to three newly established companies – Dilkon, Moiri ko and KM kom.

The three companies turned out to have been registered on the same date with the same content of their articles of association.

The bids of the three companies also proved to be similar, with BGN 49 000 for Moiri ko, BGN 48 500 for Dilkon, and BGN 47 500 for KM kom, which was awarded the contract.

It subsequently turned out that during its short period of existence, KM kom, a company of Kristina Spasova and Lora Dimitrova, both 25-year-olds, had managed to acquire two apartments in Sofia worth over BGN 500 000 and a stake in a company for food bioprocessing worth BGN 390 000.

The investigation order for Miroslav Naydenov was handed in person by OLAF's Director-General, Giovanni Kessler, who visited Bulgaria on September 27-28, Sega daily reminds.

According to reports of the Bulgarian daily, Kessler was already well well-acquainted with the tip-offs during his visit.

A separate meeting was held with the management of the AFCOS Directorate (Coordination of Fight against the Infringements Affecting the Financial Interests of the European Union) at the Interior Ministry, which is a partner of OLAF in Bulgaria.

In December, AFCOS received an official request to send detailed information on the case and copies of the documents related to it.

According to Bulgaria's Interior Ministry, as cited by Sega daily, there is no information about an ongoing investigation of Miroslav Naydenov.

The Interior Ministry, however, specifies that a team of OLAF is currently in Bulgaria and works with Bulgarian authorities on signals unrelated to agricultural program.

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Tags: OLAF, Agriculture Minister, EU funds, embezzlement, Miroslav Naydenov, Giovanni Kessler, probe, Rural Development Program, social networks, AFCOS, interior ministry


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