Monica Stanisheva, spouse of Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev, is being investigated in connection with allegations arising from Austria’s Hochegger affair, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov confirmed on June 12.
In 2012, it emerged that Stanisheva had been involved in setting up a deal in 2006 between the Bulgarian government (which had Stanishev as prime minister) and Austrian lobbyist Peter Hochegger, who was tasked with “cleaning up Bulgaria’s image with European institutions,” according to reports in Bulgarian media at the time.
Hochegger received a total 1.5 million euro under the contracts with the Bulgarian government in 2006 and 2008, with Stanisheva – who was known as Monika Yossifova at the time – hired as a subcontractor and receiving a reported 380 000 euro. She had initially denied being hired by Hochegger, but later had to backtrack and confirm she had a contract with Hochegger.
Hochegger was sentenced to two and a half years jail term in Austria in 2013 on charges of breach of trust, falsifying testimony and money laundering, stemming from a corruption investigation that found that funds from Telekom Austria had been diverted to a right-wing political party.
Centre-right opposition GERB, which was in government from 2009 to early 2013, alleged on the basis of statements by Hochegger that Stanisheva was in a conflict-of-interest situation. An ad hoc committee of the former parliament said that the two contracts with the lobbyist were drafted in a way that did not allow a real evaluation of the effectiveness of the project, nor of Stanisheva’s work as sub-contractor.
Tsatsarov told reporters that there was an investigation into Stanisheva. In the spring of 2013, Stanisheva requested an investigation by the Prosecutor-General’s office so that her name could be cleared.
On June 12, Stanisheva said that media reports the previous day that she had been questioned by Sofia police in connection with the Hochegger case were untrue.
(Sergei Stanishev. Photo: Party of European Socialists)