Finance Minister: Over EUR 100 Mln Payments Under SAPARD Suspended

Finance Minister: Over EUR 100 Mln Payments Under SAPARD Suspended

More than 100 million euro payments to Bulgaria under the SAPARD program have been suspended, Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski has confirmed, the BNR reported. Earler today, Yani Yanev , an MP for the United Democratic Forces, unveiled to the media a letter from the European Commission (EC) stating that the commission has suspended payments to Bulgaria under the SAPARD program aimed earmarked for improving the processing and marketing of agriculture and fish products.

The suspension of the payments is related to an old case from 2006, investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) , Oreshareski said. The case involves the purchasing of old machinery from Germany, which were presented as new, but Oresharski refused to disclose any details. The case gave grounds to Jean-Luc Demarty, Director-General EC's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, to suspend the payments until the case is resolved, Oresharski said.

An official statement would be issued later in the day after Oresharski gets familiar with the case.

The Ministry of Finance and the EC are having talks as far as the suspended payments under the PHARE program are concerned, Oresharski said. All required measures will be taken in order to avoid the aggravation of the situation, Oresharski added. The minister expects that the payments under the PHARE program will resume in April.

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