The US State Department has accused three other Bulgarians of corruption after announcing sanctions against Vasil Bozhkov, Delyan Peevski and Ilko Zhelyazkov. Former Deputy Minister of Economy Alexander Manolev and former Chairman and Secretary of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad Petar Haralampiev and Krassimir Tomov have also been identified as linked to corruption. Haralampiev and Tomov were charged in Bulgaria for allegedly selling Bulgarian passports.
“Today we are publicly announcing the names of former Bulgarian officials Alexander Manolev, Petar Haralampiev, Krassimir Tomov and Delyan Slavchev Peevski, as well as the current Bulgarian official Ilko Dimitrov Zhelyazkov in connection with their involvement in serious corruption,” the state said in a statement. US Department of State, distributed by the US Embassy in Bulgaria.
In their official capacity as Deputy Minister of Economy, Chairman of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad and Secretary General of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, respectively, Manolev, Haralampiev and Tomov participated in corrupt activities that undermined the rule of law and the credibility of Bulgarian society in their democratic state institutions and social processes, including using its political influence and official powers for personal gain, the statement said. It says that as a Member of Parliament, Peevski used Zhelyazkov, an employee of the National Bureau for the Control of Special Intelligence Means, as an intermediary and accomplice in the trade in influence and bribery in order to protect from public control and influence on key institutions and sectors in Bulgarian society.
The US Treasury Department also sanctioned Peevski, Zhelyazkov and Bulgarian oligarch Vasil Bozhkov, along with 64 organizations owned or controlled by Bozhkov and Peevski, for their role in public corruption under Decree 13818, which builds on and complements the Magnitsky Global Law for accountability for human rights violations, the statement said.
This announcement is made pursuant to Article 7031 (c) of the Law on the State Department, Foreign Activities and Related Program Budget Funds for 2021. In addition to Manolev, Haralampiev, Tomov, Zhelyazkov and Peevski, the names of Manolev’s wife have also been made public. – Nadia Manoleva and his children Alexa, Yoanna and Dimitar; Haralampiev’s wife and son – Veselka Haralampieva and Pavel Haralampiev, Peevski’s minor son and daughter and Zhelyazkov’s daughters – Vanya Ilkova Zhelyazkova and Roza Ilkova Zhelyazkova. This announcement makes it inadmissible for Manolev, Haralampiev, Tomov, Zhelyazkov and Peevski, as well as the closest members of their families, to enter the United States.
Today’s act reaffirms our commitment to supporting the rule of law and strengthening democratic institutions in Bulgaria, the statement said. It states that the United States supports all Bulgarians working for the progress of reforms, and the State Department will use its powers to promote accountability for corrupt individuals in the region and globally.
Hero Mustafa after the sanctions for corruption: No one is above the law!
Оur focus is on corruption. This was said by the American ambassador Hero Mustafa, who met last night with Bulgarian journalists after the decision of the USA to impose sanctions against Vasil Bozhkov and Delyan Peevski.
The meeting was also attended by Paul Ahern, a senior official in the Treasury Department in Washington. He explained that the case was not a matter of US political action, although it was a month and a half before the parliamentary elections. “This is not a political action. There was no way of knowing that there would be an election in July when we launched this investigation. When we gathered the evidence, we knew we had to act the moment we finished work,” Ahern said.
Before the information was made public, the US ambassador met with many people in Sofia – ambassadors from US allies, the Bulgarian president, government officials, leaders of various parties, including Boyko Borissov, and civil society activists. “We have not met with Chief Prosecutor Geshev. It is not on our agenda yet,” the US ambassador said.
Asked whether the United States was ready to provide all available information to the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office, Ahern said the institution would only have access to the official statement.
“They can see what we say about these people. In terms of bilateral cooperation, we will be happy to work with foreign jurisdictions as much as we can,” the American explained. He said the study used all sources of information – open data, journalistic publications, data from foreign partners and information from US institutions.
“I want to emphasize what we have done so far. (On our list) We have a judge, a former government official, an oligarch, a politician, a businessman… When we have corruption at all these levels, we are not the ones who will bring about change. This is you. This is you. it is up to you as a country to deal with it. We are your partner, friend and ally, “the ambassador said.
Asked by Mediapool what signal the United States was sending to Bulgaria’s political elite, Ambassador Mustafa explained: “We hear from everyone how important the fight against corruption is in Bulgaria. It is not aimed at a specific person, party or institution. Corruption is endemic. There is also corruption in the United States. I have never said that we are perfect, but the message is that no one is above the law. The pursuit of corruption is a task for all parties. If the people say that they want Bulgaria to have a viable democracy with a thriving economy and to be a leader in the region, this cannot happen with corruption. The money involved in this case is significant. They come from taxpayers. From you. The message to every politician is to listen to the people. Make all the necessary reforms so that corruption can really be prosecuted. “
It is not yet clear what assets will be frozen in the United States. Paul Ahern has repeatedly refused to answer the question of how long the study took before the US government made that decision. “We will invite all jurisdictions that have such laws to join us in these actions,” Ahern said, adding: “These sanctions are designed to change behavior. Anyone who does not want to be hit by these sanctions. “Anyone who deals with these companies or people is at risk of being sanctioned,” Ahern said.
As for me, the Bulgarian, let me paraphrase … Reading these messages for a change towards a living democracy … I feel the shameful feeling of envy. Yes, I envy the whole American people and every American individually.