Bulgaria's Corruption Committee Releases 'Energy Mafia' Docs
Yane Yanev, Chairman of the parliamentary committee dealing with high-level corruption cases, released all classified documents exposing trading influence and fraud in the energy sector.
Yanev, who is also the leader of Bulgaria's conservative Order, Law and Justice party, RZS, said Monday that for the first time since the fall of the Communist regime 23 years ago, a full probe in the documents in the energy sector and their declassification have been conducted.
He reported most of the information relatesto pre-trial proceedings halted by the prosecution on grounds of lack of evidence.
One of the documents was actually a wiretap of conversations that have taken place in October and November 2006 for the purchase of fuel for the planned construction of a second Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, in the Danube town of Belene.
According to Yanev, the above was a classic example of trading influence since it revealed that Rumen Ovcharov, current Member of the Parliament from the opposition, left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, in his capacity of Energy Minister in the previous Cabinet of the Three-Way Coalition had negotiated through intermediary, Krasimir Georgiev, the purchase of nuclear fuel from Russia.
The wiretaps have been obtained through special surveillance devices, SRS, and expose not only Ovcharov, but former, Socialist Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev.
Georgiev, owner of the consulting business "Frontier" has been the subject of the wiretapping.
In the recording, Georgiev could be heard saying he held several meetings with Ovcharov to align their ideas on a draft memorandum, ahead of the consultant's talks with Stanishev.
The consultant had further explained that two people – namely Stanishev and Ovcharov – will make the ultimate decision on the purchase of fuel and on Belene NPP. The conversation also includes top classified information – the decision to declare Russia's "Atomstroyexport" the winning bidder in the tender for the Belene NPP project.
Yanve insists the analyses of the wiretap lead to the conclusion, Georgiev's consulting was actually connected with his personal business interests that could be divided in several groups: the privatization of Bulgaria's tobacco and cigarette maker Bulgartabac Holding and its affiliated companies; nuclear energy with the construction of the Belene NPP, nuclear fuel supply for the existing Kozloduy NPP, contracts bween Bulgaria and Russian energy giant Gazprom, and interests in Sofia's heating utility "Toplofikatsiya."
"The current leader of BSP and of the Party of European Socialists, PES, and former PM Stanishev has negotiated secretly and behind the back of the European Commission, through Ovcharov, illegal nuclear fuel deliveries since effective January 1, 2007, EC practically banned importing more than 20% of such fuel from Russia," said the conservative MP.
Another declassified document had shown that unneeded intermediaries have pocketed huge profits from the distribution of electric energy in Bulgaria – for example, shady contracts with a Swiss company for over BGN 316 M have deprived State coffers from over BGN 90 M.
Yanev proposed Monday to the members of the corruption committee to further declassify all documents and publish them on its official sit, after the Thursday sitting.
The conservative leader announced he has received a number of threats for declassifying the information and pledged to reveal the names of those harassing him, but only after speaking with Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov.
He explained all documents will be sent to the Chief Prosecutor as well. He also read parts of prosecutors' reports where the then Chief Investigator, Angel Angelov, states he had been subjected to rude questions coming from Ovcharov and pressure to stop the investigation of "his friend Krasimir Georgiev."
Speaking Monday for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, Ovcharov denied all allegations, saying three consecutive probes have fully cleared him on all accusations of corruption.
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