Former head of the National Forest Agency facing new criminal charges

Former head of the National Forest Agency facing new criminal charges

Sofia City Prosecution charged the former head of the National Forest Agency Stefan Yuroukov with malfeasance in office for alleged illegal land swops.

Other former employees of the agency could also face criminal charges, the reports said. The charges pertain to an illegal swop with local firm Agrosim, which is alleged to have made 60 million leva at the state's expense on a deal in 2008.Yuroukov was first indicted in August 2009, just days after Boyko Borissov's Cabinet took office, on charges of malfeasance related to land swops. By some estimates from conservation groups, the full damage to state coffers from land swop deals reached 1.5 billion leva.The practice of land swops, carried out en masse during the socialist-led tripartite coalition's time in government, has been criticised as a means to exchange land in remote areas for plots in prime locations, which often became the target of real estate developments.The 2008 Agrosim deal involved controversial Bulgarian businessman Hristo Kovachki who allegedly wanted to build a resort village with a 5000-bed capacity in a protected area in the Rila National Park.Yuroukov was released on a 60 000 leva bail on his previous malfeasance charges.

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