Blame game in Largo corruption scandal – no end in sight

Photos: BGNES

Last week came to an end, and the new week began with an escalating scandal between Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Elena Yoncheva and Minister of Culture Boil Banov over Yoncheva’s accusations against Banov of misappropriation connected with a project for the renovation of the historical heritage area in the centre of the Bulgarian capital city Sofia, known as the “Largo”.

On Sunday Elena Yoncheva upheld the accusations, reiterating the authenticity of the recorded conversations she had presented publicly as evidence that the then Deputy Minister, now Minister of Culture Banov had given instructions on how, exactly, to break the law so as to extend the deadline for the renovation of the Largo.

Again on Sunday Boil Banov wrote, on his official Facebook page, that the recordings were manipulated, that their author had been blackmailing him for four years, but that he had not reported him, as the extortion had not been direct.

In yesterday’s interview, Elena Yoncheva promised that today she would refer the matter to the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF and to the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s office, and adduce proof of misappropriation. As a matter of fact the prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation on its own initiative, in connection with which Elena Yoncheva was herself questioned on Friday.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has been evasive on the matter, but on Sunday, he did make mention of the scandal, saying that the accusations were “fake news”, and warning that “unless the confrontation is put an end to, it will be harmful to whoever may win the elections”.

The corruption scandal continues to dominate the media today. Sega frontpages an article entitled “Taxpayers pay dearly for Largo renovation”. The paper writes that, in order to avoid having to return money to the EU, the Ministry of Culture had paid for a project that was not finished, and that it had then spent millions more to fortify the site, and to build the water supply and sewerage network. The documents Sega says it has in its possession, reveal “particulars” which are to the advantage of the contractor, and definitely to the detriment of the contracting entity – the Ministry of Culture.

The website Mediapool lays an emphasis on the fact that four days after the scandal broke out, PM Borissov refused to elaborate on the matter, and advised politicians to “watch what they are saying”.

Edited by Stoimen Pavlov

English version: Milena Daynova

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