Bulgaria Parliament committee to probe alleged graft in issuing citizenship

Bulgaria Parliament committee to probe alleged graft in issuing citizenship

Bulgaria’s National Assembly has agreed, with all-party support, to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate allegations in European and Bulgarian media about corruption in granting citizenship to foreigners.

The December 14 decision by Parliament follows the arrest in October of State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad head Petar Haralampiev and others in connection with alleged bribery and falsification of documents to enable nationals of nearby countries to apply for Bulgarian passports.

The ad hoc committee will have a three-month term of office and have 17 members, appointed on a proportional basis from the Bulgarian Parliament’s current five parliamentary groups.

It will be headed by Yordan Tsonev of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, whose party proposed the establishment of the committee, with Toma Bikov – an MP for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party – as deputy chairperson.

The committee will be obliged to table a report at the conclusion of its proceedings.

Borissov has said that it is possible that the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad to be shut down.

Over the years, there periodically have been allegations of corruption and irregularities in the process of granting Bulgarian citizenship, including through faking documentation showing Bulgarian ancestry, one of the grounds enabling a passport application.

There also has been talk since October of creating a ministry for Bulgarians abroad.

(Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)./IBNA