Alleged Bulgarian SAPARD Fraudster Acquitted on All Charges
Bulgarian businessman Mario Nikolov and the other defendants in the country's highly publicized SAPARD money laundering case were acquitted on all charges by a Bulgarian court on Friday.
On Wednesday, Prosecutors requested guilty verdicts for Nikolov, his wife Mariana, Lyudmil Stoykov, Ana Sharkova, Valentin Angelov, Lazarina Georgieva and Ivan Ivanov. They were charged with participating in an organized crime group engaged in laundering EUR 7.5 M drained from the EU agriculture program SAPARD.
However, the Sofia Court of Appeals has found them not guilty.
On March 29 2010, the Sofia City Court sentenced Nikolov to 10 years behind bars and his wife, Mariana, to 8 years in the notorious SAPARD case. The two were charged, along with Lyudmil Stoykov, with laundering the money drained from SAPARD. Stoykov was acquitted by the Court.
In June 2010 Bulgaria's Sofia City Court sentenced Nikolov to 12 years in prison, and five other accomplices to smaller sentences for draining EUR 7.5 M of SAPARD funds.
However, upon the appeal of the sentence, the Sofia Court of Appeals determined that there are a number of procedural breaches and unclarified facts in the proceedings.
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