U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY ANTONY J. BLINKEN
February 10, 2023
The United States, in coordination with the United Kingdom, is taking action to counter systemic corruption in Bulgaria by designating five former Bulgarian government officials as well as five entities for corrupt acts that resulted in illicit personal gain, undermined the country’s democratic institutions, and perpetuated its corrosive dependence on Russian energy sources.
The Department of the Treasury undertook several designations today pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world:
· Rumen Ovcharov, a former Bulgarian member of parliament (MP) and minister responsible for energy; Aleksandar Hristov Nikolov, a former CEO and deputy director of Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP); and Ivan Genov, former CEO of KNPP and former MP were designated for a series of illicit dealings and the exchange of bribes related to energy contracts that robbed the Government and people of Bulgaria of hundreds of millions of dollars;
· Nikolay Malinov, a former MP and leader of the Russophiles National Movement and chairman of the Russophiles for Revival of the Fatherland Political Party, was designated for bribing a judge to permit him to travel to Russia, even though he had been indicted for espionage on behalf of Russian-backed interests and had been placed under a travel ban;
· Vladislav Goranov, a former MP and former Minister of Finance, was designated for using his position to facilitate bribery in exchange for favorable legislation, depriving the government of tax revenues;
· Inter Trade 2021 EOOD, MS Konsult 2016 EOOD, the Russophiles National Movement, and Russophiles for the Revival of the Fatherland, were designated for being owned or controlled by Malinov;
· Trilemma Consulting Ltd EOOD was designated for being owned or controlled by Goranov.
The Department of State also imposed visa restrictions on Ovcharov, Nikolov, and Goranov for involvement in significant corruption under Section 7031(c) of the annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act. As a result of these actions,
those individuals and their immediate family members are generally ineligible for entry into the United States.
The United Kingdom also designated three corrupt actors in Bulgaria for serious corruption and abuse of public institution funds: Vassil Kroumov Bojkov, a prominent Bulgarian businessman and oligarch; Delyan Slavchev Peevski, an oligarch and former MP; and Ilko Dimitrov Zhelyazkov, the former Deputy Chief of the Bulgarian State Agency for Technical Operations, under the UK Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime. These actions reinforce prior U.S. designations of these individuals under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program and the Department of State’s public designation of Peevski and Zhelyazkov under Section 7031(c) in June 2021.
These coordinated actions support the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption and demonstrate the commitment of the United States and the United Kingdom to promoting accountability for corruption, and to helping Bulgaria, a NATO Ally, institute critical rule of law reforms.
The corruption perpetuated by those designated today reflects a systemic pattern of personal enrichment at the expense of the Bulgarian people, government, and democratic institutions. The United States and the United Kingdom stand steadfast in solidarity with those in Bulgaria who seek to tackle corruption and strengthen the rule of law.
For more information about Treasury designations, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release