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Bulgarian authorities conduct searches related to infrastructure embezzlement scheme

Christian Fernsby |
Yesterday, at the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Sofia (Bulgaria), searches are taking place in six companies and four private houses in two Bulgarian districts.

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The searches are intended to gather evidence in a suspected case of embezzlement, misuse of EU funds and money laundering linked to the construction of the Zheleznitsa tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Bulgaria that was recently opened for traffic.

The construction of the Zheleznitsa tunnel along the Struma motorway was led by the Bulgarian Road Infrastructure Agency who contracted a consortium of three companies to implement the project, co-financed by the European Cohesion Fund, under the Operational Programme “Transport and transport infrastructure” (2014-2020).

The contractor received approximately BGN 185 million (around €95,6 million), 85% of which was financed by EU funds.

After a signal received by Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security (ДАНС), the EPPO in Sofia opened an investigation, which uncovered that one of the companies that is part of the consortium is suspected of several criminal offences, including embezzlement, misuse of EU funds and money laundering.

The company under investigation allegedly made, in a very short time, several fictitious money transfers amounting to more than BGN 11 million (€5,6 million) to a chain of hollow companies, which led to a withdrawal of high amounts of cash by individuals with criminal records.

These companies and individuals are also appearing in another ongoing EPPO investigation concerning infrastructure projects in the railway sector.

The investigation is ongoing, in order to ascertain the nature and extent of the suspected criminal activities.

Searches were conducted by the General Directorate of the National Police (ГДНП) and the State Agency for National Security (ДАНС).


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