Bulgaria: Deputy Transport Minister Resigns After Indictment

Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Anton Ginev resigned on Tuesday after the prosecutor's office pressed charges against him for large-scale deliberate mismanagement of state funds between 2006 and 2009. 

ministry Bulgaria Bulgarian Ministry of Transport and Communications (Photo: Wikimedia)According to a news release from the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office, Ginev was indicted for “deliberately not tak[ing] sufficient care of the property entrusted to him and this [was] a significant damage,  amounting to 927,000 Bulgarian Lev (US$ 532,000). The deliberate mismanagement is particularly large and constitutes a particularly serious case.”

Prosecutors say the case dates back to 2007, when Ginev was director of the state-owned National Company Railway Infrastructure (NRIC). 

According to the prosecutor’s office, in 2007 NRIC signed a contract with the company Triumph Ltd., controlled by former Parliamentarian Iliya Iliev, for a total of 3.12 million Bulgarian Lev (about US$ 1.7 million), for repairs at the railway station in Ruse, Bulgaria’s fifth-largest city.

The contract was signed on the grounds that emergency repairs were needed, which meant the NRIC did not have to follow standard public procurement procedures. Prosecutors found that there was no urgent need of repairs.

Instead of announcing a public tender, Ginev invited three companies to submit bids. Proposals from two were rejected because of problems with the documentation, and Iliev's company was chosen.

Triumph was paid US$ 532,000, 10 days after the contract was signed but before the restoration work was started. Prosecutors say it never carried out any repair work. 

Iliev is a former member of Parliament from Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the party largely representing the Muslim minority in Bulgaria. In March of 2016, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov requested that Iliev’s Parliamentary immunity be stripped; Iliev gave it up voluntarily. 

Iliev is charged with draining the state budget through contracts with NRIC in which his companies received payments without doing the work. Prosecutors say Iliev provided false documents in order to receive these payments.

The prosecutor's office said Ginev's name emerged in the course of these pre-trial proceedings against Iliev. Ginev wrote to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov that he was resigning for personal reasons.