(DF) OLAF Recommends Interior Ministry to Reimburse Nearly EUR 6 Mln for Violation of EU Grant Agreement

February 1 (BTA) – The Bulgarian Ministry of Interior has violated the terms of an EU grant agreement for the purchase of off-road vehicles from stock instead of new ones, it transpired from a statement by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) here on Monday. The statement concerns an investigation that ended in December of last year. OLAF recommends reimbursing nearly six million euro from European funds and is considering the possibility of an investigation against Ministry officials. The OLAF inspection began in July 2018 following allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds under the grant agreement under the European Internal Security Fund, managed by the Ministry of Interior. The agreement concerns the supply of 350 off-road vehicles to the Bulgarian police. OLAF interviewed all the main participants in the preparation and implementation of the tender. All stakeholders in the investigation cooperated fully with European investigators, the statement said. OLAF has established that the Ministry of Interior has committed a violation due to a unilateral change in the tender conditions and instead of off-road vehicles has chosen to provide cars of another class (SUV). There are grounds to believe that it is possible that a criminal act (abuse of power under the Bulgarian Penal Code) was committed by employees of the Ministry. The investigation was concluded with a recommendation to the European Commission to recover 5,948,569 euro. The Bulgarian prosecution service was advised to consider opening a criminal investigation into abuse of power in favour of a third party. RI/DT /МЙ/