Prosecutor-General orders probe into Bulgarian Food Safety Agency
Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has ordered the Special Prosecutor’s Office to begin an immediate investigation into the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency to check for possible malfeasance and whether the agency awarded contracts unfavourable to state coffers, the Prosecutor’s Office said on August 8.
Tsatsarov ordered the investigation in response to a video report by journalist Genka Shikerova entitled War of the Carcasses (“Война на трупове”, which may be seen on YouTube, in Bulgarian).
Against a background of the African Swine Fever crisis in Bulgaria, Shikerov’s investigation shows that the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency has spent close to 30 million leva (about 15 million euro) since March 2018 on contracts for the disposal of carcasses.
According to the video, the money has gone to only two companies, paid large sums and who mobile incinerators’ capacity allegedly is many times lower than required.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency would be required to produce all procurement documents in connection with the disposal of animal remains announced by the agency in 2017.
The agency also would be required to show the contracts it concluded through direct negotiations in 2018 for disposal of animal remains in mobile incinerators, all annexes to these contracts signed so far, documents on payments and on the activities carried out to identify quantities processed.
Further, the agency would have to show documents certifying its checks on the work of the contractors, data on the capacity of the installations, data on the contracting companies’ mobile incinerators’ capacity, as well as information on available such facilities in the country “and the reason for not using them for the destruction of animal carcasses, especially in the current complicated environment”.
Investigators should also be shown all Bulgarian Food Safety Agency orders and instructions regarding the current prescribed method of destruction of carcasses of animals in connection with African Swine Fever “to identify the reasons why these carcasses are buried, not burned or disposed of by alternatively, as well as for the purpose of assessing the possible danger to the health of the population from such actions”.
Prosecutors also would require nformation on the use of mobile incinerators in the current complicated animals health situation, their use in front of such epidemics (bird flu, small ruminant plague) and payments made by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that it would provide timely information on the results of the investigation and the follow-up.