More than 20 people, including the head of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Petar Haralampiev, and the agency’s chief secretary, have been arrested in connection with alleged corruption and document fraud, Deputy Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev said on October 29.
The investigation is in connection with illicit trade in documents supposedly proving legal entitlement to Bulgarian citizenship, according to a statement by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Geshev, accompanied by Anton Slavchev, the deputy head of Bulgaria’s committee for combating corruption and on the confiscation of illegally-acquired property, gave a brief statement about the operation in the afternoon, several hours after the Prosecutor’s Office announced that an operation was underway at the agency.
The anti-corruption commission is in charge of the investigation while the Interior Ministry secured the investigation, the statement said.
Geshev said that the investigation is ongoing and further information would be provided on October 31.
Haralampiev was appointed head of the agency in May 2017. His appointment was backed by United Patriots’ co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov, and Haralampiev succeeded another appointee who had been backed by Karakachanov. On October 29, Karakachanov’s VMRO party distanced itself from Haralampiev in a statement, saying that he was not a member of the party or of any constituent party of the United Patriots. The party said that it endorsed the investigation into the agency.
Haralampiev was the subject of controversy in November 2017 when he was pictured wearing a Wehrmacht t-shirt. At the time, Karakachanov defended this as showing only fandom for the US band of that name. The following month, the Oregon-based band distanced itself from the t-shirt.