Accomplice of Ousted Bulgarian Deputy Minister Receives EU Subsidies

by Atanas Tchobanov

The daughter of the babysitter of the former Deputy Minister, Alexander Manolev, rears cattle alone in the Pirin Mountain and receives European subsidies for this – about BGN 50,000 a year. We learned this from a response under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) to questions sent to the State Fund Agriculture (SFA) to clarify how a company with one employee manages to utilize hundreds of acres of grassland and obtain European money for them.
Ana Dimitrova is 26 years old and is the owner of Agrotrade-Ana Dimitrova ET. This is the company that Alexander Manolev has used to build a private holiday home in the village of Lilyanovo with European Union (EU) money under the guesthouse program.

Following Bivol’s and the site Blagoevgrad News’ revelation, Deputy Minister Manolev resigned and the prosecution launched a probe and found evidence of document fraud. It also became clear that Ana Dimitrova is the daughter of the babysitter of Manolev’s child. Currently, both Alexander Manolev and Ana Dimitrova are defendants.

As early as April 2019, Bivol wrote that Ana Dimitrova’s company had been receiving EU subsidies for farming, but it was unclear what staff is carrying out this activity. From 2013 until now, her company had been providing social benefits to one person only, the owner. Nevertheless, it manages to sustain more than 2,000 acres of pastures, lawns and vineyards, some of which are in Natura 2000 in the Rupite and Melnik Pyramids sites.

It is now clear that the SFA does not check at all whether companies receiving EU subsidies employ staff, only whether the areas are kept in good condition and that animals are available.

The SFA conducted such an audit in 2018 and found no irregularities. It sent as proof photos of the cattle and pastures, as well as a checklist of the inspection carried out in October 2018.

The Prosecutor’s Office in the southwestern city Blagoevgrad has also been interested in the farming subsidies for Ana Dimitrova and has asked the SFA to carry out a new inspection in 2019. Once again, it did not find anything wrong, and the Blagoevgrad prosecutor terminated the inspection on November 15 by refusing to open criminal proceedings.

Thus, the defendant in an EU funds fraud case, Ana Dimitrova, will continue to receive EU subsidies. A check by Bivol found that she had already declared the areas to be subsidized, slightly less than the 2,322 acres declared in 2018.

To date, the business achievements of the young woman, who lives in the capital Sofia, remain unclear. Without any staff, she manages to rear a herd of cattle, sustain thousands of acres of pastures, meadows and vineyards, build a luxury house for her mother’s employer and even run a mineral water pipeline for its pool.

Photo: SFA

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