15 May 2019
Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Rumen Porozhanov has resigned from office following a corruption investigation into the possible misuse of EU development aid. EU funds were used by Bulgaria’s State Fund Agriculture department to build hundreds of private guesthouses. The agriculture minister is said to have purchased one property below market price. Some other reports in the local media said that his failure to properly declare real estate deals carried out by his wife in 2017 was the main cause for his resignation.
One executive of the department resigned at the beginning of the month after her phone number was found on the website of one of the properties. In March, the country’s second most powerful politician Tsvetan Tsvetanov resigned after it was found that he had purchased a luxury apartment in the capital, Sofia, for almost a quarter of the market price. Media reports said close relatives of politicians across the political spectrum have taken EU subsidies for such houses.
A deputy economy minister quit his post last month after he was charged following local media reports that he and his family were the only users of an expensive holiday estate built with EU aid.
The EU Commission has criticised Bulgaria many times in the past for not prosecuting its allegedly corrupt politicians. The Venice Commission has expressed dissatisfaction over the Soviet model of Bulgaria’s Prosecution which turns it into “a source of corruption and blackmail. Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law. Government officials routinely engage in embezzlement, influence trading, government procurement violations and bribery with impunity.
Bulgaria ranked as the EU’s most corrupt member state in the 2018 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International.