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Europe's top prosecutor urges Bulgarians to report graft

Europe's top prosecutor urges Bulgarians to report graft

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — The European Union's top prosecutor on Friday urged Bulgarians to report serious corruption-related crimes to a newly created EU body empowered to prosecute and bring to justice suspected perpetrators of crimes in the 22 participating member states.

Laura Kovesi said the European Public Prosecutor’s Office serves European citizens and any signal from them will be investigated.

Bulgaria has repeatedly been reprimanded by its EU partners for failing to effectively fight corruption. Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, has declared the Balkan country the most corrupt in the 27-nation bloc.

Laura Kovesi held meetings with Bulgarian authorities aimed at the rapid selection of six new candidates from Bulgaria to become delegated prosecutors after her office declared the previous ones unfit for the job.

Kovesi said that a solution had been found and added that the new nominees should be independent and experienced in combating corruption, money laundering and all other crimes under her office's jurisdiction.

Currently, only national authorities can investigate and prosecute fraud against the EU budget in their respective countries.

Kovesi said her office has already received alerts about 300 cases from across the EU.

“We will investigate all crimes after 2017 that fall within our jurisdiction as we must prove that the law is the same for everyone," she said.

Bulgaria is the first country which Kovesi has visited since taking office 10 days ago.

Her visit comes in the wake of U.S. government-sponsored sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act on Bulgarian officials and businessmen for their allegedly “extensive” role in corruption, and on 64 entities allegedly linked to them.

An interim government in Sofia, appointed after an inconclusive general election in April, has made a series of revelations of alleged corruption involving the previous government under former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

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