Bulgarian outgoing Defence Minister faces second set of criminal charges

The Military Prosecutor’s Office in Sofia has laid criminal charges of abuse of office against Nikolai Nenchev, Defence Minister in Boiko Borissov’s outgoing Cabinet, in connection with a contract in 2014 for the supply of uniforms for military personnel.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office said that it had lodged the charges on November 25. It said that the deal had caused significant financial damage to the Ministry of Defence, of 259 773 leva (about 132 768 euro).

This is the second time this week and since Borissov’s resignation that Nenchev has been charged with a crime. Earlier, prosecutors lodged charges against Nenchev, a minister from the government coalition minority partner Reformist Bloc, arising from his handling of a deal to overhaul the engines of the Bulgarian Air Force’s ageing Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter aircraft.

In its November 25 statement, the Military Prosecutor’s Office alleged that Nenchev had deliberately incited the head of the directorate on investments in defence to commit a crime in relation to the contract for the supply for clothing for soldiers.

In a public procurement procedure initiated in October 2014, a company, Lorton Ltd, placed the lowest bid and was ranked in first place. But instead, allegedly on the orders of Nenchev, the Ministry of Defence signed a contract with a different company, Supply Services.

The statement alleged that Supply Service was pressured to independently contract with Lorton so that that company was described as a sub-contractor. The financial damage to the ministry was calculated on the basis of the difference in the bids by the two companies, the Military Prosecutor’s Office said.

Investigation into the case was continuing, the statement said. Nenchev was released on condition that he regularly signs an official register.

Local media said that Nenchev declined to comment on the prosecutors’ statement but said that it seemed that his actions had affected someone’s economic interests.

On leaving the Military Prosecutor’s Office, Nenchev told reporters: “There is a need for a change in the judiciary. I’ll be back in Parliament and will do everything necessary for judicial reform”.




The Sofia Globe staff

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