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Bulgarian prosecution orders probe into alleged corruption in Turkish border fence project

Bulgarian prosecution orders probe into alleged corruption in Turkish border fence project

Bulgaria's Supreme Cassation Prosecution has ordered the State Agency for National Security and the State Financial Inspection Agency to investigate allegations of corruption among senior state officials in connection with the project to build a fence at the border with Turkey.

The investigation is in response to a complaint lodged at the Prosecutor-General's office by Velizar Enchev, a former member of Parliament, in March 2017.

Enchev, who was elected to the National Assembly on the ticket of the nationalist Patriotic Front in 2014 but who quickly parted ways with the coalition, alleged that the project was being carried out illegally because of the involvement of companies linked to the Patriotic Front, and contract fees repeatedly had been raised without justification.

The Supreme Cassation Prosecutor's Office has requested explanations from the regional authorities of Bourgas, Haskovo and Yambol, who are responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the fence.

The terms and conditions for the assignment and construction of the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border were determined by a Cabinet decree in 2015, and supplementary orders by the Cabinet approving additional expenses in January 2016.

The Turkish border fence project has been controversial from the outset, when in 2013 the first stretch of 30km was ordered by the "Oresharski" administration of the time. Irregularities in that part of the project resulted in penalties for some senior military and civilian officials.

The second Borissov government substantially extended the project, and it has come under repeated fire from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, which has accused the government of vast overspending.

The third Borissov government has faced allegations in recent weeks from the BSP that the border fence is being built at odds with the original project design and that its security is questionable.

On June 7, Interior Minister Valentin Radev denied these latest allegations, saying that he had read a report from the Cabinet's inspectorate office, which had found no irregularities./IBNA

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