Nine at Bulgaria’s automobile administration agency face graft charges

Bulgarian Motor Vehicle Administration Agency head Tsvetelin Tsvetanov and eight other employees face charges of corruption following a four-month investigation, officials confirmed on March 31 2016.

The case has similarities to 2013, when the then-head of the agency, Valentin Bozhkov, and 12 staff were arrested on corruption charges.

The arrests of Tsvetanov and the other accused were among 16 arrests on March 30, as officers from the Special Prosecutor’s Office, State Agency for National Security and Interior Ministry raided agency offices and homes.

Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov said that work on the case against Tsvetanov and the others began a few months ago when a tip-off was made to the State Agency for National Security.

Tsatsarov alleged that at Tsvetanov’s home, a sum of 175 000 leva (about 89 500 euro) in cash had been found, a further 400 000 had been found with other accused. Prosecutors were currently examining a stash of cash found at the home of Tsvetanov’s father in Dolni Dubnik, where a large of sum of money had been found in a secret compartment.

Prosecutors allege that the group at the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency collected money from various companies as pay-offs, so that the companies were not troubled by agency inspections, or for dealing with examination papers and permits for transportation of dangerous goods.

Cash was given in hand or sent via courier companies. Phone calls were made to officials about vehicles that should not be checked, it is alleged.

Prosecutors have yet to decide for which of the nine accused the most severe punishment will be requested.

Tsatsarov said that the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency was a place that “generates a risk of corruption”.

He said that the state should consider whether it was advisable to have all the matters that the agency deals with in one place. The corruption schemes were reproduced, with only the people involved changing over time, he said.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the investigation into the corruption at the agency had gone on for four months.

The operation in which the accused were busted was well-planned, he said, adding that the office of the head of the agency had been monitored and “we were aware of the contacts”. An exam room had been prepared so that those cheating could be caught.

“All those involved have been arrested and some of those arrested are already talking. I hope that the Prosecutor-General will bring things to completion,” Borissov said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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