Bulgaria: UK sanctions Peevski, two others, over alleged abuse of power, corruption

The United Kingdom has announced sanctions on controversial figure Delyan Peevski, former national security official Ilko Zhelyazkov and alleged organised crime figure Vassil Bozhkov “ for abusing their positions of power by redirecting state funds for their own benefit,” according to a February 10 statement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The three prominent Bulgarians had on February 10 been handed travel bans and asset freezes under the UK’s Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime, the statement said.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Those sanctioned have deprived the people of Bulgaria of resources crucial to its economic and social development. Money that should have been used to fix roads, build hospitals and support economic growth has instead ended up in the pockets of corrupt individuals”.

The statement alleged that Peevski had been involved in attempts to exert control over key institutions and sectors in Bulgarian society through bribery and use of his media empire.

It said that Zhelyazkov, a former national security official and board member of Bulgaria’s largest state energy company, had used his position to redirect a lucrative state contract for his own gain.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that Bozhkov was reportedly Bulgaria’s richest man, who made his fortune in the gambling industry.

“Bozhkov used bribery extensively to protect his business interests,” the statement alleged.

“The UK is combatting corruption around the world and will continue to use all levers at our disposal to tackle corrupt actors wherever we see them,” the statement said.

“The UK government has sanctioned 35 individuals and entities, including the three today, under the Global Anti-Corruption regime since its introduction in April 2021,” it said.

The statement came as the US Treasury Department said, as The Sofia Globe reported earlier, that it was sanctioning five Bulgarians, including former finance minister Vladislav Goranov and former energy minister Roumen Ovcharov, for what it alleged to be corruption.

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