EU funds embezzlement probe in Bulgaria heads to court

Written by on April 1, 2015 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on EU funds embezzlement probe in Bulgaria heads to court

Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office said on April 1 that it has finished the investigation into alleged EU funds embezzlement against two former senior judges and the former chief of staff to then-prime minister Plamen Oresharski. The prosecutors said that eight people have been indicted in the lawsuit filed in court.

The two senior judges indicted in the lawsuit were the head of the Sofia Court of Appeals Vesselin Pengezov and Petko Petkov, head of the Military Court of Appeals. Last year, the Supreme Judiciary Council voted to suspend both Pengezov and Petkov.

The duo are accused of embezzling a total 42 200 leva (about 21 600 euro) from a project to improve transparency in military courts, funded with EU money. Pengezov was also charged with breaching public procurement regulations, while the other defendants were charged with document fraud.

The project to develop an integrated IT system for the Bulgarian military courts, funded under European Union’s operational programme for administrative capacity, was awarded in 2008, when Pengezov was head of the Military Court of Appeals and Petkov was his deputy. (Another deputy of Pengezov at the time, Vladimir Dimitrov, was also indicted.)

Maria Divizieva – Oresharski’s chief of staff when she was indicted last year  – was deputy public administration minister at the time and ex officio in charge of the EU operational programme for administrative capacity in 2008/09. Prosecutors alleged that she aided Pengezov and Petkov with advice how to perpetrate document fraud and, allegedly, promised to render additional assistance and remove any further obstacles.

(Vesselin Pengezov screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)

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