Bulgarian Payment Agency’s Football Team Suffers 4:0 Defeat from Romania

The football team of the Bulgarian State Fund Agriculture (SFA), the country’s paying agency, lost this morning (May 15) with a 4: 0 the semi-final against the team of the Romanian Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture (APIA). This happened during the first Paying Agencies European Football Championship, held in Bucharest from 12 to 15 May.

Photos, sent by Romanian journalist Attila Biro, show the Secretary General of the SFA, directors of directorates and of sectors and other persons in positions of responsibility in the Fund. In recent days, the latter is at the epicenter of the “guesthouses” scandal because of which the former SFA Director Rumen Porozhanov resigned from his current post of Agriculture Minister.

The SFA current Director Zhivko Zhivkov did not participate in the football match and the SFA press office insists he is at work. The SFA football star is Plamen Stoyanov, who is the Director of the Public Procurement Control Department. He also plays for the team of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov “Bistrishki Tigri” (The Tigers from Bistritsa). Yesterday, May 14, after accepting Porozhanov’s resignation, Prime Minister Borisov also played in a football game.

The SFA press office had difficulties in listing the players and their positions in the Fund, as well as in saying whether they were on leave or on a business trip and asked for written questions.

The Bulgarian paying agency, SFA, manages billions in payments for agriculture and programs funded with European Union (EU) money. As evidenced by Bivol’s investigations, this money has been massively abused through guesthouse projects that turn out to be private villas, nursing homes built as hotels, construction of rural roads with poor quality materials, and duck farms without ducks, among other abuses.

The Romanian agency APIA is also shaken by serious scandals over EU funds abuse. One of them, investigated by Bivol and Rise Romania, involves the Bulgarian First Investment Bank (FIB or FIBank). According to the indictment of the Romanian Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, bank executives in a plot with underworld figures such as Ivan “The Universal” Tanev and Mila “The Bloody” Georgieva have stolen EUR 26 million from APIA through forged documents. Former APIA bosses were demonstratively arrested a few years ago, but the Prosecutor’s Office in Bulgaria remains idle and there is no investigation into this case.

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