State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad Probed for Bribery, Chairman Arrested


State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad
Probed for Bribery, Chairman

Sofia, October 29 (BTA) - The specialized prosecution is investigating the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad and 15 Agency employees have been arrested for bribery, counterfeit documents and abuse of office. According to unofficial
information, the agency chief, Peter Haralampiev, is among them.

The arrests took place during law-enforcing operations in three cities: Sofia, Kyustendil in southern Bulgaria and Pleven in northern Bulgaria.

On Monday investigators searched locations, carried out confiscations and questioned witnesses in the three cities.

The investigation was launched four months ago following an alert that certificates of Bulgarian origin were issued against 5,000 euro.

Such certificates are requires when a foreign national applies for Bulgarian citizenship on account of his or her Bulgarian roots.

According to media reports, the Agency staffers operated as a criminal ring which made hefty profits by issuing an average of 30 Bulgarian origin certificates each week.

Peter Haralampiev was nominated to the post of Agency director by the IMRO party of the power-sharing United Patriots coalition. He, however, is not a member of IMRO or any other of the United Patriots partners, IMRO said in a statement Monday. They expressed support for the work of the investigators and called for the harshest punishment for those who are proven guilty.

The parliamentary Volya party issued a statement by its Vesselin Mareshki in which he urges the investigators to probe the case to the bottom. He calls the position of IMRO "laughable": "while their man kept the whole thing going they were quiet and now when he is exposed, they abandoned him".

The Volya leader further says that the Agency is under the supervision of Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov (United Patriots). He recalls that a journalistic investigation showing how the service to Bulgarians abroad had turned into a profitable business, recently prompted Volya to ask Simeonov a question during Question Time in Parliament. The question was turned down with the argument that the Ministers don't take questions based on stories in the news media. LY/LN/RY/PP//

Source: Sofia