Corrupt Cigar-Loving Bulgarian Ex-Minister to Be Charged - Report

Politics » DOMESTIC | November 25, 2009, Wednesday // 09:40
Bulgaria: Corrupt Cigar-Loving Bulgarian Ex-Minister to Be Charged - Report A former Minister who had a sophisticated rituals for demanding bribes is expected to be charged according to a 24 Chasa Daily report. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

One more former Bulgarian Minister who received millions of euros as bribes is expected to be charged soon by the Prosecutor’s Office.

This was reported Wednesday by the Bulgarian 24 Chasa Daily which cites a high-ranking source. The paper does not provide the name of the corrupt ex-Minister but says that he was a member of two cabinets.

The Minister in question is reported to have had a sophisticated ritual of asking for bribes over public procurement procedures which incurred losses worth millions of euros to the Bulgarian state.

According to the testimonies of four witnesses before the Unit for Fighting Organized Crime (GDBOP), the Minister would invite his “guest” for talks in his cabinet.

Then he would point to the ceiling to show that there were tapping devices, and would write down on a note the sum demanded for guaranteeing the applicant a certain public procurement order. The sum meant the demanded monthly bribe, which according to the report, went directly to the central office of the Minister’s party.

After that the corrupt Minister would burn the note in a fine glass cigar bowl, or would use a shredder.

The following day, a special envoy of the Minister’s party met with the “client” to inform them where and how the money has to be transferred.

“There were cases in which he demanded over 40% of the money won from securing the specific public procurement order,” a witness is quoted as saying.

The 24 Chasa article points out that there is no written evidence of the bribery scheme of the Minister in question, and the witnesses are expected to testify in court trials initiated over public procurement deals which have been exposed as unfavorable to the state.

Two former Ministers have already been charged over violations – ex-Agriculture Minister Valeri Tsvetanov (DPS party) over land swap deals, and ex-Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev (NMSP party) – over public procurement orders.

The MP immunity of former Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev and former Labor Minister Emiliya Maslarova, both from the Socialist Party, has been lifted, and are under investigation; Stanishev for leaking classified information, Maslarova – over public procurement orders.

An unconfirmed report of the Monitor Daily said Tuesday that former Economy Minister Rumen Ovcharov may be deprived of his MP immunity as well, and charged over an unfavorable deal he made with Gazprom for Russian gas supplies.

Another unconfirmed report of the Standart Daily said Tuesday that Nihat Kabil, former Agriculture Minister, and Byurhan Abazov, former Deputy Agriculture Minister, were very likely to be charged over land swap deals. Both are from the ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms).

If the 24 Chasa report is right, and the new Minister to be charged over corruption was a member of two cabinets, he must be from either the NMSP, or the DPS party as the NMSP and DPS ruled together in 2001-2005 (government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg), and both were then part of the three-way coalition together with the Bulgarian Socialist Party in 2005-2009 (government of Sergey Stanishev).

The only people who were Ministers in both cabinets although of different ministries are Nikolay Vasilev, Georgi Petkanov, and Meglena Kuneva, all from the NSMP. However, the 24 Chasa sources do not specify if the person in question held ministerial jobs in both cabinets. Nihat Kabil from the DPS, for example, was also a member of both cabinets as he was a Deputy Agriculture Minister in the Saxe-Coburg government, and the Agriculture Minister in the Stanishev government.

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Tags: DPS, NMSP, BSP, public procurement, former ministers, minister, bribe, corruption, corrupt, GDBOP

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