Bulgarian President Vetoes Graft Law, Urging Tougher Measures

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev vetoed anti-corruption legislation approved by parliament last month, saying it doesn’t do enough to counteract graft as the Balkan country assumes the European Union’s rotating presidency.

The law, passed in an effort to improve the nation’s image as the EU’s most-corrupt member, doesn’t clearly define institutions’ responsibilities and doesn’t protect whistle-blowers from prosecution, Radev said Tuesday by email. He urged lawmakers to expand the law’s scope to investigate public officials and their activities.

“The approved law not only fails to create an adequate legal basis for dealing with corruption, but it would make fighting it even more difficult,” Radev said.

The European Commission has been urging Bulgaria to reform its judicial system and step up the fight against organized crime since the country joined the EU a decade ago. Failure to do so has caused some member states to reject Bulgaria’s bid to join the Schengen passport-free travel zone, even after it met the area’s technical requirements. Transparency International ranks Bulgaria the EU’s worst nation for corruption in its 2016 perceptions index.

Radev asked parliament to vet people who’ll lead a newly expanded commission to investigate public officials for conflicts of interest and allow the seizure of assets whose values don’t correspond to their owners’ taxable incomes.

“Corruption has many forms through which private economic interests take over state management in the legislative, executive and judicial powers to affect decision-making to their benefit by illegal, hidden forms of pressure and influence,” he said. “Fighting corruption requires a multidimensional approach.”

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