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Probed Bulgarian Energy Consultant Claims Overdue Payments.

Bulgarian energy consultant, Bogomil Manchev, declared Thursday the country's National Electric Company, NEK, still owed him EUR 950 000 and he was, most likely, going to sue it over the unpaid amount.

Manchev, CEO of Bulgaria's Risk Engineering consulting company, told bTV that the contract in the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, in the Bulgarian Danube town of Belene has not been terminated and the site had not even been frozen.

He explained that the termination can be done only through a written order of the respective Ministry in charge of the project and such order has not been submitted.

Because of the above, there is an ongoing daily inventory of 40 facilities at the Belene site, Manchev stressed.

Last Friday, Risk Engineering's offices were searched in a special police operation against suspected fraud in the energy sector. Manchev's company is believed to have embezzled EUR millions in consultancy deals for the Belene project, despite the fact that its construction was stopped in March of 2012.

The operation took place in the capital Sofia, including in the offices of Risk Engineering, the western city of Pernik, and the Danube towns of Kozloduy and Belene.

Kozloduy is the site of Bulgaria's only Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, while there is a debated project to build a second, Russian-sponsored one in Belene.

The special police operation came on the heels of Sofia City Prosecutor's Office launching on August 9 a pre-trial procedure for large-scale embezzlement and mismanagement. The main lead in the investigation are payments from NEK for consulting services for the Belene NPP project, made after the previous government of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, decided to freeze it in March 2012.

The prosecution, however, underscores that the moratorium on the project on the part of the government in essence means halting all activities related to it.

"No director subordinate of the Minister will act on its own to stop the contract. If a guilty party is to be designated, let them find out who did not do their job in the freezing of the project. Why didn't the new Minister issued an order to stop Belene? The contract is valid and people do work under it and must be paid," said Manchev.

He reiterated that there were a number of private and political interests hidden behind this operation, such as demonstrating to those protesting against the government that the state is committed to fight corruption.

As for private interests, Manchev suggested a certain individual who is interested in taking over his positions, but again did not reveal a name. This time, however, he said it was someone from the circles of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP.
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Publication:Sofia News Agency
Geographic Code:4EXBU
Date:Sep 26, 2013
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