The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is investigating nine Bulgarian companies that are suspected of committing fraud to obtain European Union funds, EPPO said on March 25.
It said that on March 22, twenty-five searches were conducted in Sofia and other cities in the districts of Sofia, Pernik and Montana, and 10 suspects were questioned.
The people under investigation are the managers, owners and representatives of companies that had applied for and received EU funds under the Innovations and Competitiveness operational programme, which targets small and medium enterprises and aims to improve the development of the Bulgarian economy, the statement said.
“They are suspected of participating in an organised criminal group and of presenting false documents and statements in order to illegally obtain these funds,” EPPO said.
At the request of the handling European Delegated Prosecutor and with the authorisation of Bulgaria’s Specialised Criminal Court, the General Directorate for Combatting Organised Crime conducted 25 searches of houses, offices, warehouses and vehicles owned by these companies.
During the searches, a large amount of documents and hardware was seized, as well as the equipment (mainly construction material like dumpers, excavators, front loaders) that was bought with the received funds, worth six million euro.
The investigation is still ongoing, EPPO said.