Bulgaria Agriculture Minister Denies Being Probed by OLAF
Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov has refuted allegations that he is being investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for EU funds embezzlement.
According to a publication of Sega daily, the tip-off against Naydenov was submitted on August 28 in connection with a public procurement procedure for popularizing the Rural Development Program on Facebook and Twitter.
An investigation of Sega conducted in the summer of 2012 revealed that a public procurement deal worth BGN 50 000 had not been announced in public and the company which won the contract, KM kom, owned by two former officials of the Agriculture Ministry, had grown rich overnight.
"The European Council decided to grant Bulgaria an extra sum of over EUR 2 B in agriculture funds and I believe that this cannot happen if the Agriculture Minister of a country, who is in charge of these funds, is being investigated," Naydenov told private TV station bTV on Tuesday.
He suggested that the claims of Sega daily were absolutely false and had been proved wrong by the Interior Ministry, the AFCOS Directorate (Coordination of Fight against the Infringements Affecting the Financial Interests of the European Union) at the Interior Ministry, and OLAF.
Naydenov claimed that the allegations were part of a smear campaign, emphasizing the journalists' responsibility for disseminating such information.
He underscored that such investigations were to be conducted by the competent authorities of a country, and AFCOS in Bulgaria's case.
Naydenov noted that he had been assured by AFCOS head Commissar Sonya Klisarska that he was not being investigated.
He added, however, that OLAF had been investigating Agriculture Ministry officials some months ago on a tip-off of Kalina Ilieva, former Director of the State Fund Agriculture.
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