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Apartment Scandal Brings Down Bulgaria’s Anti-Corruption Chief

With the government already being heavily criticized over the practice of selling of Golden Visas to foreigners, another scandal is affecting the country: Bulgaria’s anti-corruption chief resigned over possession of a luxury apartment. In the wake of the same scandal, other ruling party officials were also forced to quit.
Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said in April that the anti-corruption chief, Plamen Georgiev, was among people being investigated in the scandal, for allegedly making false declarations about the circumstances in which he and his wife acquired an apartment in the capital Sofia, said the news agency Reuters in a report.
That led President Rumen Radev to withdraw support for confidence from Georgiev, who had taken charge at the commission in March 2018. Bulgaria has s notorious reputation for open corruption and the selling of EU passports.
In June, the country’s Bulgaria’s Anti-Corruption Commission said it found no conflict of interest in the property scandal that was uncovered by RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service, the news website, and Bulgaria’s Anti-Corruption Fund NGO.
While on leave and alleging that there was no attempt of influencing the investigation, Georgiev said he did nothing wrong. However, he added that he decided to step down anyway, without explaining any details of the apartment purchase.
“I haven’t committed an offense,” he told reporters in Parliament. “I took the decision to resign a long time ago. Мy family has been subjected to incredible harassment by some media,” he said, with no explanation why he decided to make the announcement now.
Bulgaria’s anti-graft activist group said in a statement it was still expecting the authorities to explain discrepancies in what Georgiev had declared and what he actually owned.
He had failed to include in his required declaration of assets a 186-square meter (2,000 square foot) terrace at the building in which he lives, according to investigators. Parliament, by a vote of 120-3, accepted his resignation.
The deputy leader of Bulgaria’s ruling GERB party, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, quit Parliament in March after similar allegations in a scandal that led the justice minster and two deputy ministers to also resign. Reports had mentioned them, too, to buy luxury apartments in a wealthy Sofia suburb at below market prices. All cases involved contacts with the same real estate developer. Like Georgiev, they, too, denied any wrongdoing.
Bulgaria is ranked as the most corrupt European Union country by Transparency International, a problem that has kept foreign investors away and keeping it out of the bloc’s Schengen free travel zone.

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