The European Anti-Fraud Office(OLAF) has concluded that Bulgarian Interior Ministry breached the provisions of €6 million EU fund to purchase 350 all-terrain vehicles for the police.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) investigators have initiated a criminal probe into the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior over the alleged corruption and financial mishandling.

The ministry is accused of siphoning off the EU funds to purchase SUVs from older stocks instead of new all-terrain police cars.

OLAF reports found out that Bulgarian officials had breached the terms of the grant agreement by unilaterally changing its conditions.

Bulgaria has received nearly €6 million to buy 350 all-terrain vehicles for use by the police.

The investigation began in July 2018 after allegations of “fraud and the misappropriation of EU funds” from the EU Internal Security Fund.

OLAF closed the investigation in December 2020 and released the report on Monday.

“OLAF discovered that the Ministry of Interior had breached the provisions of the grant agreement by unilaterally changing its conditions,” the statement reads.

The investigators have recommended the recovery of nearly €6 million in the EU funds.

“Recommendations were made to the Bulgarian Prosecutors’ Office to consider opening a criminal investigation for abuse of power to the benefit of a third party.”

Further, the officials of the ministry could be involved in the investigation for alleged “abuse of power.”

“Manipulated tenders allowing potential fraudsters to line their own pockets at the expense of citizens is a typical fraud pattern seen by OLAF’s investigators all too often,” Ville Itälä, OLAF Director-General, said.

Itälä urged the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office “to give proper consideration to our recommendation of legal action.”

“This would send a clear message that nobody is above the law and that OLAF and its partners across Europe will continue to work tirelessly to protect European taxpayers’ money” the director-general added. 

The EU report came after last years’ mass protests where thousands of Bulgarians demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov over the corruption.

Protesters accuse three-times premier Borissov and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev of failing to fight the corruption that erodes the rule of law and benefits powerful tycoons in the European Union’s poorest country.

Source: TRT World