European Chief Prosecutor: We are Investigating over 120 Reports of Crimes in Bulgaria
“We received a record number of complaints and based on that we started investigating over 120 cases.” This was announced after her meeting with Prime Minister Kiril Petkov by the European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi. She is on a visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of the Prime Minister, with whom she has been talking for more than an hour.
Kovesi said the annual report will be published later this week or early next, with information and statistics on cases and investigations conducted by the European Public Prosecutor's Office in each country. According to her, the signals are for various crimes - fraud with European funds, public procurement, information on the misuse of agricultural subsidies, violations in the field of construction, as well as funds for recovery after COVID-19.
The European Chief Prosecutor stressed that since her first visit to Bulgaria, several channels have been established to report suspected fraud. The Council of Ministers will also become a point of contact with the European Public Prosecutor's Office, which Kovesi described as “a clear signal of a strong commitment at the highest level - in line with everything the European Public Prosecutor's Office is trying to achieve in all EU member states”.
She explained that during their meeting with the prime minister, the two discussed opportunities to improve joint work. “The idea of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to create a special group to work with the European Prosecutor's Office as a guarantee of autonomy is something we should strive for,” Kovesi said.
According to her, at the moment different institutions can refer to the European Public Prosecutor's Office if they have information about a committed crime. “It is important in Bulgaria that there is no monopoly on the authorities, which can send signals to the European Prosecutor's Office - this can also be done by citizens, non-governmental organizations, journalists, and anyone who has information,” Kovesi said.
“The fact that the Council of Ministers is a contact target is a very strong signal of political will to fight financial fraud. We have two ways of working - we can not sit in our offices and wait, but we must be proactive,” added the European Attorney General.
She stressed the importance of working well with all institutions, adding that she would not comment on national topics that were not within her remit.
“As usual, I do not comment on internal issues, but I comment on everything related to the EP. I started my visit with the Prime Minister because he invited me. Tomorrow I will hold a meeting with Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev and Minister of Justice Nadezhda Yordanova. My role is to be in contact with all authorities in Bulgaria,” Kovesi added.
She added that European delegated prosecutors, as well as chief prosecutors, are independent and that this is a red line that cannot be broken, and explained that she has not received any information that anyone is trying to violate their independence. “Bulgarian delegated prosecutors are professionals, I trust them,” she added.
“We share the same priorities, we speak the same language. If there is no detection of fraud, there will be no investigation,” Kovesi said after meeting with Petkov. The Prime Minister, for his part, said that for violations, corruption and all kinds of crimes related to EU funds, the government will work together with the European Public Prosecutor's Office.
“Bulgaria is not a place for such crimes,” said Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. He recalled that all crimes after 2017 can be investigated.
“I am grateful to Kovesi, who said that the European Prosecutor's Office and the Bulgarian government will work together for real results,” the prime minister said after the conversation.
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