Bulgaria’s interim prime minister is urging the government to redouble its efforts to fight local corruption, calling for changes in prosecutors’ offices, the judiciary and all law enforcement agencies.
Sofia, Bulgaria – Bulgaria’s interim prime minister on Monday urged the government to redouble its efforts to fight local corruption, calling for changes in prosecutors’ offices, the judiciary and all law enforcement agencies.
Prime Minister Stefan Yanev spoke at a meeting of the Governmental Security Council that he called to discuss new anti-corruption policies following US sanctions on Bulgarian officials and businessmen for their alleged “pervasive” roles in corruption.
Last week, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against former Member of Parliament and media mogul Dalian Peevsky; oligarch Vasil Bozhkov; and former national security officer Ilko Zhelyazhkov for his alleged roles in public corruption.
It also banned 64 entities allegedly linked to them, saying the move was the biggest ever to target corruption.
The ban on Bulgarians and companies effectively blocks them from accessing the US financial system, freezes their US assets and prevents Americans from dealing with them.
Yanev said the Bulgarian government would try to mitigate the political and economic risks posed to the country by US sanctions.
“We must protect the state-owned companies from the financial sanctions being imposed. To this end, we must stop bank transactions with these investigated individuals, so that businesses and state-owned companies are not blocked,” Yanev said.
He acknowledged, however, that the US sanctions are a serious sign that corruption in Bulgaria is deeply rooted in the country’s political and economic system and its consequences are already beyond the country’s borders.
EU and NATO member Bulgaria has been repeatedly reprimanded by its Western partners for failing to fight corruption effectively. Corruption watchdog Transparency International has named Bulgaria the most corrupt country in the European Union of 27 countries.
“We cannot have a stable political system, a prosperous economy or a functioning social system without addressing the fundamental problems with corruption,” he said.