The anti-corruption unit at the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has lodged criminal charges against Lazar Lazarov, former chairman of Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency, alleging that he caused financial damage of 41.6 million leva (about 21.2 million euro) in connection with the Maritsa Motorway project.
The Prosecutor’s Office announced the charges on June 21 after pre-trial proceedings were initiated on September 17 2016.
Prosecutors said that in the course of the investigation, it was found that on August 1 2011, a contract was signed with Italian company CHi.Em.CHi. di Ravenna for the construction of Lot 1 Orizovo Dimitrovgrad of Maritsa Motorway.
The length of this stretch was about 31km and the construction period was 25 months. The cost of the project was about 133 million leva excluding VAT. The contract specified that construction work was to be finished in autumn 2013 but this did not happen.
The contractor said that in the winter of 2013 and spring 2014, there was a lot of rain and snow, leading to soil soaking, meaning that the soil had to be “stabilised” before road construction could go ahead. This was a length of 1760 metres, not the entire stretch, the Prosecutor’s Office statement said.
The Road Infrastructure Agency announced a contract for additional work, which was won by the Putishta Plovdiv company, with which on June 30 2015 a contract was signed.
The statement said according to evidence gathered by the anti-corruption unit, Lazarov had between August 2014 and June 2015 deliberately failed to take sufficient care of the management of Road Infrastructure Agency property.
Prosecutors alleged that Lazarov had failed to check whether the planned construction work in the later contract had not already been included in the 2011 contract.
They also alleged that Lazarov had failed to ask a special directorate at the agency to justify the necessity of the work and to explain how the value of the contract was arrived at. Lazarov had on June 30 2015 signed the 51.3 million leva contract with Putishta Plovdiv for the additional work.
A total of about 30.5 million leva was paid to Putishta Plovdiv for work that was covered in the 2011 contract with the Italian company, prosecutors said. The statement went on to detail other expenses, including 4.6 million paid to Putishta Plovdiv for work that, the statement said, was unnecessary.
The investigation was continuing, the statement said. Lazarov was not in custody but was required to sign an official register regularly.
(Photo: Road Infrastructure Agency)