Eighteen searches were conducted yesterday, 29 June 2022, in the Bulgarian towns of Petrich and Obzor as part of an ongoing investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) into fraud relating to EU agricultural funds. Eight suspects were arrested, among them the Head of the Petrich Regional Agricultural State Fund – who is also a member of the Petrich Municipal Council.
The EPPO is looking into the alleged activities of an organised criminal group made up of relatives, subordinates and close friends of the Head of the Petrich Regional Agricultural State Fund. The group is suspected of presenting false, inaccurate and incomplete documents and statements in order to receive EU agricultural funds for an estimated value of around €300 000. In some cases, the group even put the names of deceased people on the documents to get the funds.
During the searches of animal farms, cars and premises – including the office of the Regional Agricultural State Fund – large quantities of documents, computers, mobile phones and animal identifiers were seized.
The searches were performed in close cooperation with more than 40 police officers from the General Directorate for Combatting Organised Crime (Главна дирекция „Борба с организираната престъпност“) within Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior and experts from the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (Българска агенция по безопасност на храните), and Bulgaria’s Agricultural State Fund (Държавен фонд „Земеделие“).