© Yulia Lazarova
European Chief Prosecutor Laura Köveschi
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On behalf of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Directorate-General for Organized Crime (DGOC) has today (September 26) arrested three people and searched six locations as part of an investigation into an organized crime group that is believed to have obtained illegally received agricultural subsidies from the European Union, the European Prosecutor’s Office announced.
It is clarified that based on the investigative actions carried out by the State Security Agency and the National Security Agency (DANS) and the seized evidence and documents, it is assumed that the suspects provided false information on behalf of other persons to the competent authorities in order to obtain agricultural subsidies .
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According to the evidence, instead of applying for agricultural funds for a large area of land, the organized crime group divided it into smaller plots. They are alleged to have subsequently used persons of low socio-economic status as proxies to submit applications for agricultural subsidies.
The investigators established that the leader of the organized criminal group was authorized by the impersonators to act as their representative before the State Fund “Agriculture” (DFZ) and the Regional Directorate “Agriculture” in Sevlievo, as well as before commercial banks. This meant that he was able to directly take the EU agricultural subsidies they applied for and gain full control over the projects.
The investigation also shows that as members of the organized criminal group, two employees from DFZ and the Regional Directorate “Agriculture” in Sevlievo may have participated. They are believed to have facilitated the group’s activities by providing information and consultations related to the relevant operational program and subsequent inspections during the implementation of the projects.
One of the civil servants was among the three arrested. In addition, searches were carried out at five private addresses and at the Regional Directorate “Agriculture” in Sevlievo, as well as four individuals.
Operative-investigative actions continue, and the total amount of damage is yet to be determined, the European Prosecutor’s Office specifies.