Bulgaria Sets Up Anti-Corruption Unit; Security Chief Steps Down

Bulgaria set up a Center for Prevention of Organized Crime and Corruption in an effort to clear its image as the European Union’s second-most corrupt country after Greece.

The center will work together with similar units in the police and the State Agency for National Security, which is the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, told reporters in Sofia today. The unit will be headed by Roumen Milanov, Borissov’s security adviser.

Borissov also said he accepted the resignation of national security agency chief Tsvetlin Yovchev over his failure to prevent leakage of taped phone conversations to the media, in which Customs Office chief Vanyo Tanov complains to senior government officials about pressure on his office to protect certain companies from tax investigations.

Borissov took office 18 months ago, pledging to curb corruption and organized crime after criticism from the European Commission. The leaked tapes prompted a confidence vote in Parliament on Jan. 20, which he won. The Brussels-based commission is expected to assess Bulgaria efforts to fight graft in an interim report at the end of this month.

Bulgaria ranks among the most corrupt countries in the EU including Greece, Romania and Italy in a corruption perception index by Transparency International, a Berlin-based watchdog.

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