Bulgaria arrests 12 over organised crime gang

Bulgaria, the poorest European Union member, is under great pressure at home and abroad to impose the rule of law and stamp out fraud and corruption.

Bulgaria arrests 12 over organised crime gang

Bulgarian police on Wednesday arrested 12 members of a powerful crime gang suspected of more than a decade of money laundering, racketeering, drug trafficking, bribery and tax fraud, the interior minister said.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov told state television he believed the group had in the past been protected by senior officials in the judiciary and previous governments, but did not give details.

"It is a very well organised criminal group which ... over the last ten years has managed to create this Octopus," Tsvetanov said. Police said more arrests were possible after the overnight swoop in the capital Sofia, dubbed Operation Octopus.

The group is also suspected of siphoning off funds from now insolvent steelmaker Kremikovtzi.

Bulgaria, the poorest European Union member, is under great pressure at home and abroad to impose the rule of law and stamp out fraud and corruption.

Brussels cut Sofia's access to more than 500 million euros in EU funding in 2008 because of its failure to stop fraud, and warned Bulgaria recently that it could lose billions of euros of rural and farm aid unless it acted swiftly over illegal land swaps and other fraud.


Reuters

Last Mod: 10 Şubat 2010, 15:33
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