Bulgarian Government Probe Accuses Ministries of Fraud
A probe of suspected legal violations of public procurement procedures by the former government has identified a series of issues within the ministries of defence, regional development and agriculture.
Suspected violations by the former coalition government led by Boyko Borissov have been identified at the ministry of defence, the ministry of regional development and its subordinate agency for road infrastructure, as well as the ministry of agriculture, Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdjikov announced on Friday.
The administrative check-up with a focus on public procurements was ordered by the Bulgarian caretaker government on the day it was appointed in January by President Rumen Radev.
Gerdjikov explained that the two weeks that his cabinet has had to probe the work of the previous administration has not been enough for an in-depth analysis. But he said that his caretaker government will proceed with the check-ups during its limited lifespan, until a new adninistration is elected on March 26. “Signals have been sent to all the institutions in charge to take follow-up measures,” he said. The probe identified legal or administrative violations in 45 out of 85 contracts for public procurements signed by the ministry of defence in 2016.
Nine of the contracts in which “there are indicators of fraud and other violations” have been given to the prosecution, while the others will be investigated by the state financial inspectorate. Bulgaria’s former defence minister Nikolay Nenchev has been under constant fire since Borissov’s cabinet resigned in November 2016.
In November, the state prosecution pressed charges against him for abuse of office over two separate procurements – for the production of military uniforms and for the maintenance of the engines of the army’s MIG-29 fighter jets.
On Wednesday, new defence minister Stefan Yanev announced that at least 100 procurements conducted by the former administration would be handed over to the prosecution, but Gerdjikov’s report showed they have been limited to just nine. Nenchev said on Friday that nothing will come out of the investigations into him, and called the probes “old and well-mastered Communist trick”. He added that he believes that that the probes of old public procurements are an attempt to distract public attention from more important issues, such as the NATO meeting that took place in Brussels this week.
Other problems that the probe identified are linked to tenders for the construction of the Trakia and Hemus highways, offered by the road infrastructure agencies, which according to Gerdjikov violated competition principles. Gerdjikov also warned that delayed public procurements at the agriculture ministry could cause a loss of European funding. “I have set explicit requirement to the ministers of the interim cabinet that all the public procurements which are urgent and will be announced during the mandate of the interim cabinet, to be commissioned according to all the legal rules and monitored by the inspectorates and auditing bodies in the ministries,” he said. He listed a number of ministries at which no irregularities have been discovered, including finance, transport, energy, youth and sports, environment and waters, tourism and labour.
The full report from the probe will be published on Monday.
17 February 2017
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