Former Bulgarian Energy Minister, Rumen Ovcharov, firmly denies having ties with Russian organized crime, as alleged in an US diplomatic cable. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Former Bulgarian Energy Minister, Rumen Ovcharov, and the CEO of Risk Engineering, Bogomil Manchev, have denied information from a diplomatic cable of the US embassy in Sofia.
The cable, dated December 20, 2006, and titled DIRTY ENERGY: CORRUPTION AND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY PLAGUE BULGARIAN ENERGY SECTOR, has been revealed by WikiLeaks and provided to the Bulgarian project for investigative journalism http://www.bivol.bg, bringing out new details about corruption and lack of transparency in Bulgaria‘s energy sector. The text has also been published on the Balkanleaks site, an analogue of the notorious whistle-blowing WikiLeaks.
The cable makes direct allegations about the existence of an “energy mafia” in the country, and mentions concrete names, such as those of Ovcharov and Manchev.
Manchev, cited by the Bulgarian weekly Capital, says the only thing that is written correctly in the cable is his name while the rest is non-sense.
“The problem is that western businesses do not like having a same-level adversary on Bulgarian territory. As far as energy mafia – this is such a squib that I do not want to comment,” Manchev states.
When asked about the pay for the consulting services of Risk Engineering for the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene in Bulgaria, and if there is any truth it would reach EUR 400 M, the CEO replies: “For the entire contract, most likely, yes. But the major part of the funds will go to Worley Parsons. Risk Engineering is to get less than 50%.
“I am saddened that an American Ambassador is capable of writing such boloney,” Ovcharov on his part has told Capital, also denying the “energy mafia” allegations.
“There is not energy mafia in this direct sense. There are large energy companies in the sector as they are in other sectors as well – the pharmaceuticals for example, but no one is talking about a pharmaceutical mafia. If you are talking about Worley Parsons, yes, they make profits, but if I remember correctly, they are an American company? They are the reason for Risk Engineering to become such a strong player. You must be competent in order to be in the energy sector,” Ovcharov explains.
When asked to comment on the cable’s allegations he is pro-Russian, has connections with the Russian business and even with organized crime, the former Energy Minister declares he has never asked for money for leading a certain policy, but had been the victim of a 2005-2006 smear campaign over his independent thinking and doing what he deemed right.
“As far as ties with Russian business and organized crime – I am speechless. This is total rubbish,” Ovcharov says.