According to data available to BIRD, in 2022 the Managing Authority of the Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” (OPIC) finds that a financial correction should be imposed on 650 of the 713 contracts closed.. The total amount of penalties may amount to over BGN 300 million In almost 600 of the projects approved for EU funding under procedure BG16RFOP002-2.001
“Improving production capacity in SMEs” (small and medium-sized enterprises), the correction should be 100% of the received EU funding. For two years now, several caretaker governments appointed by President Rumen Radev are trying to amend the legal framework instead of complying with the law and imposing sanctions.
Also in 2022, the European Court of Auditors issued a report
There is no “improvement in production capacity”
At the end of 2021, the Managing Authority of OPIC found that many companies approved for EU funding under procedure
“Improving production capacity in SMEs” (small and medium-sized enterprises) do not meet the indicators set by themselves and a financial correction should be imposed on them.
According to the Ordinance on the indication of irregularities constituting grounds for financial corrections and the percentage indicators for determining the amount of financial corrections under the European Structural and Investment Funds Management Act, in force at the moment, in the part of Appendix No 2, item 6, it is provided that when the implementation of the approved indicators under the project is less than 45%, A financial correction under the concluded grant contract in the amount of 100% should be determined.
In mid-2022, OPIC has established that on the basis of the 713 contracts completed under the procedure BG16RFOP002-2.001 “Improving the production capacity in SMEs” and data received from the NSI, on the basis of which the implementation of the indicators under the procedure is assessed, a financial correction of a large number (650) of the 713 contracts concluded should be determined under the current legal framework.
Under 588 of the contracts, the non-fulfillment of the indicators is in an amount for which the current version of item 6 of Appendix No 2 to the Ordinance on Indication of Irregularities provides for the amount of the correction to be 100% of the grant paid. This means that the total amount of grant to be recovered from the beneficiary firms under the procedure referred to may amount to More than $300 million Lv.
Non-random companies among the 713, of which up to 100% financial correction should be imposed on 650
There is no specific information, for now, which are the 650 companies on which up to 100% financial correction should be imposed. Review of the list of funded by procedure BG16RFOP002-2.001 “Improving production capacity in SMEs”, however, shows some familiar and non-random firms. Below we list some of them.
Two companies owned by Yordan Hristov – the groom and now the ex-husband of “Miss Bikini” – the former inhabitant of “The House in Barcelona” Borislava Yovcheva received a total of 1.9 million subsidies for the “improvement of productive capacity”. “Himmash” Jsc has received 993 582.76 lv. EU funding under the draft totaling BGN 1 669 887. “OMZ” Ltd has received 896 669.81 EU funding under the draft totaling 1 494 449.69 BGN.
“Stone ComputersAD with co-owner the former convicted judge Veselin Dimitrov – Vesko “The Lutenitsa‘ s near on Sotir Tsatsarov and the boss of YOU Georgi Cholakov, has received 999 919.09 EU funding under the draft totaling BGN 1 668 200. The company has Earned public procurement for about BGN 30 million
Ivan Todorov’s Ciela Norma
AD – considered close to DPS MP Delyan Peevski, who is suing the CEC for voting machines
, has received BGN 450,957.60. EU funding under a project
totaling BGN 751 596.
project totaling 990 000 BGN.
AD, associated with Lirex BG AD – contractor of over 500 public procurement contracts totaling BGN 64 million, has received BGN 797,190. EU funding under a project
totaling BGN 1 328 650.
” AD, owned by the Chairman of the Municipal Council Varshets Anatoli Dimitrov
from GERB received 998 724.60 leva. EU funding under a project
totaling BGN 1 664 541.
” Ltd., co-owned by former GERB MP Boris Karchev
, has received BGN 483,720. EU funding under a project
totaling 806 200 BGN.
” EOOD of Mariana Pecheyan-Krasteva, former Chairman of the Municipal Council Dryanovo from “Liberal Alliance”, has received BGN 993,843. EU funding under a project
totaling BGN 1 840 450.
Two companies related to Angel Cholakov – former region Manager Angel Cholakov has received subsidies since the time of the “Triple Coalition” for “improving production capacity”. “MM Mechanics” Ltd – 999,949 along draft totaling BGN 1 682 000. “MM Galvanix” Ltd – 902,220 along draft totaling BGN 1 503 700.
” EOOD of Kemal Tinev from the party of Tsvetanov and “NPSD” has received BGN 731,850. EU funding under a project
totaling BGN 1 045 500.
” Ltd., associated with Nikola Djipov Nikolov – former MP in the 38th National Assembly
of the UDF, has received BGN 964,839.90. EU funding under a project
totaling 1 608 066.49lv.
EAD, whose board of directors in the past was former NMSS MPs Mincho Spasov
and Marina Dikova
, received BGN 998,881.20. EU funding under a project
totaling BGN 1 664 802
The full list of all 741 companies financed under procedure BG16RFOP002-2.001 “Improving production capacity in SMEs” can be viewed
An attempt to circumvent the law by changing an ordinance
What does OPIC do with companies that do not meet the indicators set by themselves? Instead of fulfilling her obligations, Ms. Evelina Zaharieva, Head of the Risk Management, Control and Security Department, who is responsible for administering signals for irregularities and imposing financial corrections, respectively, initiated an amendment to the legal framework by proposing an amendment to item 6 of Appendix No 2 to the Ordinance on the indication of irregularities. In case of consultation in the poratal
, it shall be established that such an amendment has been
as early as 29.12.2021. The report to the proposed amendment states that by 29.12.2021, 78% of enterprises will have to recover 100% of the aid received, with the amount estimated at EUR 86 million. 15% of which is national co-financing (provided by the budget of the Member State). The report clearly states that the effect of the proposed amendment will be to remove the possibility of collecting EUR 86 million from the European Union. Lv. unlawfully granted aid. Two years later, the MA of OPIC has not imposed any financial correction related to the identified problem, as it is noteworthy that neither the Director General of the program has taken measures to comply with the law, despite the change of several relevant ministers, nor any of the control bodies, including the Executive Agency – OSEC, the Court of Auditors, the EC or others – has found the non-fulfillment of obligations. According to data available to BIRD, the Ministry of Innovation and Growth has initiated a new amendment to the provisions of item 6 of Appendix No 2 to the Ordinance on the indication of irregularities, and an informal interdepartmental procedure for coordination of texts is currently underway.
Since 2021, Rumen Radev’s caretaker governments have been making frantic efforts to amend the legal framework so as not to impose 100% corrections on more than 580 projects out of 713 funded under OPIC 2014-2020. A number of procedures under this operational program set indicators for the results of investments. Based on the indicators in question, 650 projects should require a financial correction for failure to achieve the set goals. The total amount is BGN 300 million. This was also notified to the OSEC and Atanas Pekanov – Deputy Prime Minister for European Funds Management. Instead of complying with the law and imposing sanctions, the government of Galab Donev, and in particular Minister Pekanov, made a third an attempt to amend
the provision of paragraph 6 Annex 2 of the Ordinance in order not to penalize projects that do not meet the requirements.
OPIC 2014-2020 is notorious for the fact that the same companies are often recipients of subsidies financed by European funds. Some of them are construction and are being investigated for participation in Turkish Stream. A curious question is why the Head of the Irregularities Department Ivelina Zaharieva does not fulfill her legal obligations and allows concentration of European funding to such entities. The question remains whether a political umbrella is being made in terms of the programme in order to sweep away the actions of the ministers for the past 8 years.
For the bystander two hypotheses exist in this situation. According to one, there is a collective concealment of a striking incompetence. According to the second, a more likely hypothesis is about protecting the interests of certain enterprises (it is publicly known that companies receiving support under OPIC are the same and are often contractors for public procurement of other compromised state sites).
Directorate General “European Funds for Competitiveness”
” (DG EFC) is the Managing Authority (MA) of the Operational Program “Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy” 2007-2013 (OPDCBI), Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020 (OPIC), Operational Program “SME Initiative” 2014 – 2020 (OPISME), Program “Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises” 2021-2027 (CIIP) and Program “Research, Innovation and Digitalization for Intelligent Transformation” 2021-2027 (PCNIDITIS), as part of the implementation commitments of the European Structural and Investment Funds in Bulgaria.
In connection with the implementation and reporting of the Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020 (OPIC), DG “European Funds for Competitiveness”, in its capacity of the Managing Authority (MA) of OPIC, has set when submitting project proposals applicants to set values on indicators to establish a qualitative and / or quantitative measure of measurable results achieved in the implementation of projects, financed under the operational programme. Usually, the indicators predict how the equipment purchased under the program will lead to an increase in the economic activity of the applicant enterprise, and on the basis of these forecasts the enterprise receives a certain number of points that directly affect its ranking under the procedure, respectively the decision whether the applicant should receive assistance.
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