We learned from a brief message of the SFA press office, sent Monday evening (April 4, 2016) that one of the protagonists in an investigation of Bivol has been “dismissed”.
In connection with a signal and subsequent probe that established omissions in the submission of compulsory declarations by government officials, the press office of the State Fund “Agriculture” informs that Yanaki Chervenyakov, Head of Sector in Directorate “Contracts under the Rural Development Interventions” has been dismissed today.
April 4, 2016, SFA Press Office
The parting with Yanaki Chervenyakov happened after Bivol revealed that he drives expensive limousines registered to his father and lives in a luxury gated community in an apartment paid by his mother-in-law, who has been awarded two contracts under the Programme for Rural Development.
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The reason to become interested in the case is not property acquisitions, but evidence of colossal abuses of EU money allocated by the State Fund Agriculture under the so-called “Rural Program”. Our investigation revealed systemic problems – a scheme to drain EU funds through inflated prices and lax subsequent control. It fully applies to other operational programs and in general to the public procurement in the country.
In the simplest corruption scheme, the beneficiary inflates the prices under the summary bill of quantities BoQ (KSF) and subsequent SFA Appraiser (evaluating) Commissions turn a blind eye and do not reduce them if they conduct successful “negotiations” with the beneficiary. The content of these negotiations is not public, but there are clear indications that the topic of discussion is “distribution” of overestimated costs. Ultimately, European taxpayers are the ones harmed.
Here’s what happens after such “negotiations”. In two letters with identical outgoing numbers SFA informed the Mirkovo municipality about a project to rehabilitate a road section. The first letter, dated April 23, 2015, announces a partial correlation and an imposed financial correction of 10%, which is fully motivated. In a second letter dated September 9, 2015, the correction of 472,861levs is dropped.
SFA Head Porozhanov will elect evaluators in the dark
The role of evaluators, who control the prices in the projects of beneficiaries, is key. Based on their analysis, inflated prices can be reduced to their actual market value, or not be reduced and resources drained, as seen in the “Zemen Affair”.
A check in the website of the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) shows that the SFA Executive Director, Rumen Porozhanov, announced on March 29, 2016, two public calls for tenders (№9051852 and № 9051853) for selection of independent evaluators. Both are public calls rather than an open procedure.
Both tenders have a total value of 112,000 levs and SFA has been aware of the need to implement them, at least from the publication in November 2015 of the tentative timetable for receiving applications in 2016. But why are the tenders divided? To circumvent the law and to assign more relaxed regime as public calls (unlike open procedures) in no way can be appealed.
Another significant breach in the two SFA orders is the failure to adhere to their own requirement not to use “steps with a large range where it becomes practically impossible to choose a contractor who offers the best ratio quality – price”. In the two public calls, the difference between the maximum and minimum evaluation of the technical proposals is entire 90 points.
These violations are aimed to ensure the selection of specific evaluators who are not going to create problems with the schemes for the theft of funds.
In a previous publication Bivol clearly exposed the schemes used for the theft. We draw the attention of investigating authorities to them, because they are valid not only for the SFA and not only for European funds, but for all public procurement in the country. The result is expensive and poor quality construction works, while the stolen is divided along the entire chain of corruption in which institutions, municipalities and circles of companies are entangled.
In order to prevent a subsequent discovery of documentary evidence of abuses, the archive of the Program for Rural Development in the SFA looks like this – as a warehouse. At least, the documentation is not filed under the common for an archive numbers. That means that in fact the archive is missing.
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