The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office is investigating senior officials of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with alleged abuse of office and mismanagement, according to a statement by the Prosecutor’s Office on January 20.
The investigation is based on “information evaluated as sufficient” about a contract by the Foreign Ministry not meeting the requirements of Bulgaria’s Public Procurement Act, regarding the provision of air transport, hotel accommodation and medical insurance during official travel by ministry staff.
Prosecutors allege that the ministry did not comply with the act in concluding two agreements, in January 2016 and April 2016, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to use the services of a company.
This company had a contract with the Agriculture and Food Minstry to provide air transport, hotel accommodation and medical insurance for official travel by agriculture ministry staff.
The agreements provided for the Foreign Ministry to commit to pay for six months of the company’s total amount of 700 000 leva (about 358 000 euro) towards flight tickets, hotel vouchers and insurance.
Prosecutors said that this had caused serious negative consequences for the Foreign Ministry, a violation of a provision of the Criminal Code, while the Foreign Ministry had not benefitted from large discounts on air tickets and hotel vouchers, though it had the opportunity to do so. This had meant financial damage to the Foreign Ministry of 148 000 leva, prosecutors alleged.
The statement said that the investigation would examine all documentation from the Foreign Ministry and the Agriculture and Food Ministry and all those involved in the case would be questioned. A financial forensic examination would be done to establish the precise amount of the financial damage to the Foreign Ministry, prosecutors said.
Staff of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s office investigation department will conduct the probe, which has been given two months to complete.
The Foreign Ministry has not yet commented.