05 Apr 13
>Bulgaria Prosecution Targets Energy ‚Crimes’
A month-long inquiry following nationwide electricity protests has resulted in five high-profile criminal cases linked to the energy sector.
Sofia The former chief executive of Bulgaria’s state-own electricity company, NEK, as well as four “unknown perpetrators” have been charged by prosecutors with mismanagement and misconduct resulting in substantial losses for the state and high electricity prices.
In one case, officials from the Economy and Energy Ministry failed to collect dividends from one of the power distribution companies amounting to some 102.2 million euro. Last year, the state sold its shares in the company, operated by the Czech conglomerate CEZ, and was no longer be able to collect the money.
In another case, officials from NEK are being investigated for signing contracts between 2001 and 2011 that obliged the state to buy overpriced electricity from the Maritza Iztok 1 and Maritza Iztok 3 thermal power plants.
According to the media, the losses from these contracts, valued at between 200 million euro and 500 million euro, resulted in a 10 to 25 per cent increase in the price of electricity for consumers.
The contracts could not be cancelled without incurring major losses. The impact of this is felt at moments such as this, when there is a surplus of electricity production and NEK is forced to balance the grid by lowering the capacities of the cheaper nuclear power plant in order to continue to buy more expensive electricity produced by the two thermal units.
A third case is investigating the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission for exercising overly lax control over the electricity distribution companies. The fourth charges the CEZ power distribution company with mismanagement.
CEZ, whose license to operate is threatened by the investigations, has denied wrongdoing and announced on March 29 that it would file a complaint with the European Commission.
The fifth case accuses the former chief executive of NEK, Mihail Andonov, with mismanagement and other unspecified crimes. Part of the indictment against him is classified. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bulgarian-prosecution-targets-energy-mafia