After the adoption of the EU Funds Management Act (ZUSESIF) at the end of 2015, the administrative authorities managing European funds began to issue individual administrative acts. This led to a sharp increase in administrative cases filed against the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the Ministry of Economy, the SFA and a number of other administrative bodies. The administration “copes” by hiring law firms for a lot of money out of the pocket of the European taxpayer. And without public procurement.
European legislation speaks of “managing authorities” of individual programmes, suggesting that they are autonomous administrative units. In practice, however, in Bulgaria at national level an approach has been adopted the managing authorities to be part of the administration of the relevant ministry. A technical assistance fund is provided for each operational programme. In terms of OP “Regions in Growth” in MRDPW is worth 52.3 mln. euro. The funds are intended to increase the effectiveness of the Managing Authority of OPRD and the beneficiaries of the program, as well as to raise public awareness of OPRD 2014-2020. In plain language, these are funds intended for training, remuneration, business trips and technical support of the experts involved in the program. However, there is evidence in the public registers justifying the hypothesis that the funds are subject to systematic abuse.
The operational program, during the entire period of GERB’s rule, is led by Denitsa Nikolova (in the leading photo from the MRDPW website). Lastly, she is a member of GERB in the 45th National Assembly. Nikolova gained notoriety among the administration with the practice of laying off employees. According to insiders, she often appeals sick leave to employees of her administration and limits their opportunities to use paid annual leave. These practices, as well as personnel reforms that led to the dismissal of dozens of experts, lead to a lack of administrative capacity.
But the lack of experts does not mean that the administration does not have representation in the courts. A check in UMIS shows that Denitsa Nikolova has awarded contracts for over BGN 5 million for legal representation to various law firms. This happens without public procurement, as Article 13 of the Public Procurement Act states that the legislation does not apply to legal services ‘relating to the representation of a client by a law firm or by a lawyer in arbitration or conciliation proceedings in a Member State, a third country or before an international arbitration or conciliation instance or in proceedings before a court, jurisdiction or public authority of a Member State or a third country, or before an international court, tribunal or institution.’
Probably, with the same success, the court procedures could be implemented by the Legal Department of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, which (the Ministry) is a party to the cases. But the law “unties” Nikolova’s hands and she engaged law firms for services that cost the budget over BGN 4,600,000.
Our honest lawyers
It is evident from the list of concluded contracts that Peshkovski & Karamelski Law Firm is present there with funds actually paid to him in the amount of BGN 567,599.98. A curious detail is that the office is positioned in Sofia. Vratsa. From there is the former Minister of Regional Development Petya Avramova. The rise of the Law Firm in the office coincided with Avramova’s inauguration in office at the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works.
Zlatka Karamelska, wife of lawyer Tsvetizar Borisov Karamelski, has a political career at regional level in Vratsa. In the media publications, the lady is described as a banker, head of a branch of “Municipal Bank” and regional chairman of the Leader associated with Hristo Kovachki. It is part of the municipal council in Vratsa. A curious fact is that many of the regional media in Vratsa and Dupnitsa pay serious attention to the wedding of Teodora Karamelska – daughter of Tsvetizar and Zlatka with Metodiy Kozhuharov, who is the son of an accuser from the District Prosecutor’s Office in the city. Peshkovski & Karamelski is also a preferred legal consultant from the municipality of Krivodol.
Among the engaged law firms we meet “Topalov & Balinova” with paid 443 993.44 BGN. and “Tabakov, Tabakova and partners” with the impressive 1 117 487.78 BGN. The last two companies are among the three invited by RIA to offer offers to advise the agency. Capital reports that the former chairman of the Sofia City Court (SCC) Kaloyan Topalov and his deputy Bilyana Balinova stand behind Topalov and Balinova. They resigned in September 2017 after constant pressure from the media defending the interests of GERB and DPS lawmaker Delyan Peevski. The company “Plocheva, Valchev and Partners”, in which partner is the Dean of the Law Faculty of Sofia University and former Education Minister prof. Daniel Valchev made fees amounting to 294 485.97 leva.
Among Denitsa Nikolova’s elected representatives stands out Menko Menkov & Partners Law Firm with paid BGN 491,938.46. In Menkov’s biography there is the fact that he was a lawyer of Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and the case ended with an acquittal. Undoubtedly, Menkov and his colleagues are priority penalists, which deal with criminal cases. Menkov himself is a product of the Ministry of Interior Simeonovo Academy. On the other hand, the cases assigned by OPRD are mainly administrative. Public and administrative law occupy a very serious place in the portfolio of the other contractors of OPRD. This fact hardly corresponds to the paid about half a million fees to “Menko Menkov and partners”.
Our team received a signal that the files related to the cases continue to be carried out by the lawyers who remained working in the directorate. On a daily basis, the experts processed the files on the cases brought against the management body of OPRD. With their materials, law firms appeared in court. That is to say, ready. However, our team cannot verify that this is the case.
According to the data from the PPA, Denitsa Nikolova “outsourced” various activities inherent in the administration of the management body of OPRD. Such are the on-the-spot checks on the projects of commissioned under the program, as well as verification of costs under the programme. Dozens of contracts are available under this cost item value above the value of the contracts is BGN 8 500 000. They will be more extensively analysed in trace material.
It is unclear why the MA of OPRD has a lease agreement for a building with “Tao Building” . MRDPW definitely does not suffer from a shortage of workspace. The contract worth 3 367 032.96 BGN was concluded on 01. 12. 2015 and lasts up to 31. 12. 2023 Tao Building Company  is owned by the Joint Stock Company “Finance Consulting” .
And our, readable media
In addition to lawyers, the Operational Program “Regions in Growth” spends generously on media. It is a counterparty  with Nova TV, bTV, Europe and Darik, which are generously funded. The most modest amount was paid to the public radio – BGN 11,520. On the other hand, the national televisions NOVA and bTV have received respectively BGN 109,440 and BGN 205,769. The nearby cable car “Europe” is financed with BGN 48,000. Perhaps this explains the lack of media interest in the irregularities in the activities of the Management Body.
Щом сте стигнали дотук, вероятно вече си задавате въпроса как се финансира този журналистически проект.
От създаването си BIRD се финансираше от подаяния в нашето журналистическо чекмедже.
Но на чекмеджето му мина времето. Даже прокуратурата затвори онова Чекмедже, знаете кое…
Нашето финансиране влиза в крак с епохата. Фондонабиращата ни кампания вече се казва
Дарявай за BIRD и мятай павета в блатото с корумпирани политици и други тарикати.
Те тайно премятат пари от твоя джоб в своя. Те размятат безнаказано лукса си пред очите на всички. Няма кой да ги накаже ако се надяваш на държавата.
Мятай, за да ги накажеш ти. Да дариш за разследващите журналисти е гаранция, че гадостите, с които силните на деня те замерят, ще им се върнат.
Можеш да метнеш веднъж, за да ти олекне!
Но по-добре е да мяташ редовно всеки месец и да се чувстваш трайно удовлетворен.
А най-добре е да доведеш приятели и да мятаме редовно заедно в екип. С мощен залп!
*За кръстник на новата ни фондонабираща кампания избрахме другарката Ваня. Благодарим й за вдъхновението!
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