The company Eco Tradex Group, based in Bulgaria’s southern city of Haskovo, and best-known from the affair “Best Man Gate”, is listed in the Unified Management Information System (UMIS) for the EU Structural Instruments in Bulgaria 2020 with a Latin E, which in reality hides it from search engines. The names of hundreds of entities in the Transparency Systems for the absorption of EU funds and in the database of the Public Procurement Agency have been entered with such convenient “mistakes”. The phenomenon is also known as “Corruption Cyrillic”.

Eco Tradex Group is one of the companies in the so-called “Dream Team” – a circle of companies affiliated with Delyan Dobrev, former Energy Minister and current lawmaker from the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB). Since January 2018, the company is officially managed by Delyan Dobrev’s cousin Rositsa Gargova. A year ago, an investigation by Bivol established that this company had won public procurement for BGN 90 million and was a contractor for six projects funded with European money.

Corruption Cyrillic

The so-called “Corruption Cyrillic” is a classic method of concealing public procurement from becoming known to competitors and common citizens. It is widely used in Russia, as the Russian Forbes notes. To hide a public procurement tender from a pre-selected company’s potential competition, an announcement containing Latin letters is entered into the system. Consequently, only “our company” learns about the procedure. It is informed in advance that there is a public tender and then submits a bid.

In Kyrgyzstan, another country using the Cyrillic alphabet, the site for investigative journalism Akchabar has also found dozens of State tenders disguised in this way. The administration’s employees had shrugged in amazement and had explained that these had been spelling mistakes.

In Bulgaria, there is a good number of such cases. In addition to Eco Tradex Group, we note the spelling of “Sveta Anna” (Saint Anna) University Multi-Profile Hospital for Active Treatment with a Latin “e” in Sveta. This spelling identifies 150 public procurement contracts for about BGN 50 million. They account for nearly 10% of the hospital’s supply contracts. Although there is no evidence of manipulation in these tenders, the mere fact of misspelling should trigger the interest of the authorities.

sveta-anna

Here, the letter “e” in “Sveta” is from the Latin alphabet.

Of course, the brothers Cyril and Methodius, the creators of our alphabet are not at fault for these schemes used by today’s “white collars”. The Glagolitic they created cannot be confused with the modern Latin letters.

The government hides the solution

To avoid such errors, digital identifiers are used in computer science. Every person and company in the country own a unique number – a personal identification number (EGN/social security number) for citizens, or UIC (single identification code) for legal entities. While the EGN includes personal data and should not be disclosed by government institutions, UIC is public information that is printed on every invoice and receipt.

At the same time, the government refuses to provide the lists of beneficiaries and contractors in projects funded with EU funds containing their UICs. The UMIS systems for the previous programming period of the EU operational programs and the IKAR of the State Fund Agriculture (SFA) for the current period do not show the UICs of the companies. Incidentally or not, that is where the largest number of cases of “Corruption Cyrillic” are found.

According to Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, to whom Bivol did turn in accordance with the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) in order to receive UIC lists, the creation of such lists was a too complex and difficult task, not included in the administration’s job description.

However, experts who have worked with the UMIS and IKAR systems claim that generating a list of beneficiaries or contractors with UIC is a matter of seconds. And of course – of a will for transparency, not for concealing abuses and doing favors to Na6i, 4itavi companies.

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