The European Commission has asked Bulgaria to return 3.4 million leva (about 1.7 million euro) in EU funding, spent under the GERB administration to promote the Agriculture Ministry’s rural development programme, Bulgarian daily Sega reported on December 18.
An audit ordered by the Commission found that four contracts awarded by the ministry breached public procurement and conflict of interest laws, meaning that any EU funds spent on such contracts have to be recouped by the Commission, the report said.
Sega quoted the director of the State Fund Agriculture – the ministry agency that handles all EU funds payments in the agriculture sector – Miroslav Nikolov saying that the agriculture minister in the GERB government, Miroslav Naidenov, had been notified of the audit’s results when he was still in office, but did nothing to address the issue.
Nikolov said that he has forwarded all the documents to the prosecutor’s office, which will have to decide whether to launch a formal investigation against Naidenov.
According to Sega’s report, the Commission has halted future payments on media contracts signed as part of the rural development programme until all ongoing audits are completed. This means that should the audits find more breaches, Bulgaria could be forced to give back even more EU money, Sega said.
(Former agriculture minister Miroslav Naidenov. Photo: mzh.government.bg)