Boyko Borissov, three-time conservative premier, detained as part of probe into fraud involving EU money related to public tenders, agricultural subsidies, construction and Covid recovery funds.

Leader of centre-right GERB party Boyko Borisov has been hit by a series of corruption allegations over the years but has denied any wrongdoing.
Leader of centre-right GERB party Boyko Borisov has been hit by a series of corruption allegations over the years but has denied any wrongdoing. (AFP)

Bulgaria's former prime minister Boyko Borisov, 62, has been detained along with other members of his party in EU prosecution investigations related to the misuse of EU aid funds.

"A major operation is under way in relation to 120 cases of the European Public Prosecutor's Office in Bulgaria... Boyko Borisov... has been detained," the Interior Ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

Along with Bulgaria's three-time conservative premier, authorities also arrested his ex-finance minister Vladislav Goranov, ex-parliamentary budget committee chairwoman Menda Stoyanova and former government press service chief Sevdalina Arnaudova, it added, as searches and seizures continued at many addresses across the country.

The ministry did not provide details but public BNT television said the cases concerned "misuse of EU aid."

"Nobody is above the law!" Bulgaria's energetic new Prime Minister Kiril Petkov posted on his official Facebook page on Thursday evening.

More than 100 probes on fraud 

The operation comes on the heels of a visit to Sofia on Wednesday and Thursday by European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi. She praised Petkov's "determination, leadership, and compelling vision on the fight against corruption."

"Now is the time for the relevant Bulgarian authorities to team up with us, including on particularly sensitive cases. This is why we exist, this is why we are here," Kovesi said.

She added that Bulgarians have sent to her office a record number of reports about potential criminal activity.

According to Kovesi, European prosecutors has opened 120 investigations of fraud involving EU money related to public tenders, agricultural subsidies, construction, and coronavirus recovery funds.

Petkov's newly formed corruption-fighting party won general elections in Bulgaria in 2021 on a "zero tolerance for corruption" platform.

It appealed to Bulgarians weary from Borisov's almost 10-year tenure, which was riddled with corruption allegations.

Borisov denies wrongdoings 

The former premier himself has been hit by a series of corruption allegations over the years but has denied any wrongdoing.

The most embarrassing example was in 2020 when pictures were leaked to the media showing him asleep with a handgun on his nightstand.

Other pictures –– which Borisov said were doctored –– purported to show several bundles of 500-euro ($600) notes and gold bars crammed into his bedside table.

Source: AFP