Bulgarian authorities have nailed down on several Bulgarian officials involved in a shady sale of Bulgarian passports for Bitcoins. Allegedly, the Bulgarian officials permitted applicants from Moldova, Macedonia, and Ukraine to spend $5,690 (£4,445) for fake certificates to indicate their family origins in Bulgaria.
The head of Bulgarian State Agency for Bulgarians’ matters abroad Peter Haralampiev, General Secretary Krasimir Tomov, and a member of the agency Mark Stoyov were among those apprehended.
Confirming the arrest of these officials, the Chief Prosecutor of the State Ivan Geshev Affirmed that:
“Peter Haralampiev, Krasimir Tomov, and Mark Stoyov have been arrested for fraud with the issuance of Bulgarian passports to Ukrainian, Moldovan and Macedonian citizens.”
Reacting to the arrests, the legal team of the accused officials denied the charges by the Prosecutor General. However, the Prosecutor General insisted that they had sufficient evidence to prove that bitcoin payments for passports.
It is noteworthy that Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007. For clarity, the EU allows member states’ citizens to travel and live within the jurisdictions of the EU. Consequently, after Bulgaria joined the EU, there was an increase in the number of applications for Bulgarian citizenship. However, most of those applications used the false certificates issued by the corrupt officials to apply for the passports. Reportedly, in the last 10 years, Bulgaria offered 115,000 citizenships after officials sold the dishonest origin documents.
Earlier, Radio Liberty reported the detaining of around 20 people for selling Bulgarian passports to the citizens of Ukraine, Moldova, and Macedonia.
“The Head of the Department on Bulgarians, who live abroad is among the detained,”
According to law enforcers, the suspects received $5.6 thousand for one document. They are facing charges of falsification of documents, corruption, and abuse of authority as well as the creation of a criminal grouping. Previously, a criminal syndicate involved in the falsification of Polish Passports for Ukrainians and snuggling the immigrants to UK was unmasked in Poland. A pan-European operation arrested over 100 people, including the gang leaders,
Incentive for Fraud
The trend of selling passports is becoming common for illegal immigrants intent on legally entering into EU countries. In 2016, Europol unravelled a covert syndicate in Greece with a branch in the Czech Republic. Among those arrested, five were from Ukraine while the rest were from Bangladesh and Sudan. Additionally, the criminals were engaged in the sale of fake Schengen visas, driver’s licenses and residence permits.
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