The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has revealed startling figures regarding investigations into suspected fraud involving European Union funds in Bulgaria, with a staggering 203 cases under scrutiny, amounting to €884.9 million. According to a report for the year, the investigations shed light on concerning misuse of EU budget allocations within the country.

Throughout 2023, a total of 107 new investigations were initiated, focusing on misappropriations totaling €405.2 million. Notably, among these cases are probes into VAT fraud, with a collective value of €28.2 million. However, despite the significant sums involved, no orders for property seizure were issued during the year.

Furthermore, the report indicates that while numerous investigations were launched, none resulted in final court decisions or convictions, highlighting the complexity and challenges inherent in prosecuting such cases.

The breakdown of reported abuses reveals a range of infractions, with a significant portion linked to irregularities in public procurement processes. Additionally, suspicions of spending irregularities with public funds, VAT evasion, and corruption allegations also feature prominently in the investigations.

A closer look at the sectors affected by the fraudulent activities shows that mismanagement of funds from the EU budget for cohesion programs constitutes the bulk of the investigations. Agriculture-related programs also feature prominently among the cases under scrutiny.

Overall, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office disclosed that it initiated over 330 investigations across the EU in the past year, with an estimated €11.5 billion in damages to the European budget attributed to these cases.