Sun, May 19 2013
One of the long-awaited court cases of great public interest was finally given a go ahead by the Sofia City Court on October 20 2008, Bulgarian news agency BTA said.
The case is based on an investigation that the European Anti-fraud Office (Olaf) started in 2006. In July 2008, a report on Bulgaria's deficient handling of European Union funds conducted by Olaf said that it suspected that millions of euro were embezzled by "a criminal network made up of more than 50 Bulgarian, European and offshore companies, controlled and/or financed by [Bulgarian businessmen] Mario Nikolov and Lyudmil Stoykov, suspected of having close ties to the current Government".
Now, on October 20, the court gave a green light of the case filed by State Fund Agriculture against Nikolov and eight other defendants, including his wife. They are accused of tax fraud aimed at embezzling European Union funds under the EU Sapard programme allocated by the fund.
According to the alleged criminal scheme, the Nikolov group, as it is often referred to in Bulgarian media, used to export old meat processing equipment out of Bulgaria to Germany where the equipment was taken to pieces and than imported back to Bulgaria vie Switzerland and Ireland, declared as brand new equipment.
For the "purchase" of this "brand new" equipment the Nikolov group had received funding from the fund. That is why the funds is suing the Nikolov group for total of 17.8 million leva, BTA said. In response to the fund's claim Nikolov's lawyers filed a counter-claim for 26 million leva.
Lyudmil Stoikov, however, is still waiting to be charged officially by the Prosecutor-General's Office, although according to Olaf he was also part of the Nikolov group. Stoikov became famous after opposition politicians said that some of his companies had been among the sponsors of the election campaign of the senior partner of the ruling coalition the Bulgarian Socialist Party and President Georgi Purvanov.
The funding is provided under the foreign military sales programme of the US army's Program Executive Office of Simulation, Training and Instrumentation.
The UK nationals were arrested after throwing beer bottles at people after being refused entry to a restaurant that had closed for the night.
Restoration and development projects include Madara Horseman, Arbanassi fortress, Magura cave.
Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his spouse Margarita opened a new heating and insulation system at the Tsar Ferdinand Hospital for Pulmonary Diseases in Iskrets, a project implemented thanks to the Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Sofia and the Nando Peretti Foundation.
According to the law's provisions, the commission will have the power to investigate individuals without prior notification and would not require a criminal conviction in order to launch an investigation.