Five officials at the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency regional directorate in the Black Sea district of Bourgas, including the head of the regional directorate Dr Georgi Mitev, face criminal charges for operating as an organised crime group that has been soliciting and receiving bribes for the past three years, prosecutors said on August 29.
The five were taken into custody on August 28 in Bourgas, Nessebur and Pomorie in a joint operation by the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the State Agency for National Security, a statement by the Appellate Special Prosecutor’s Office said.
The group allegedly racketeered food outlets for bribes in exchange either for falsifying inspections or preventing food safety inspections being carried out.
Allegedly, Mitev sometimes went to the scene of food inspections to order subordinates to stop the checks.
Places where such incidents had happened included Bulgaria’s popular summer Black Sea resorts of Sunny Beach, Kiten and Primorsko.
To escape being inspected, food outlets paid bribes to the group of 400 to 900 leva (about 200 to 450 euro).
The statement said that in search-and-seizure operations at premises of members of the group, a sum equivalent to 25 000 leva – in leva, euro and dollar notes – had been confiscated.
Mitev is out on bail of 150 000 leva, while the other four officials each are on bail of 75 000 leva.