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Bulgaria Joins The Wrong Club

One benefit of “globalization” — a word we think means the integration of national economies into the global financial system — is that corrupt regimes now come in for heavy international flak. The spotlight on corruption moves around — it was on China for a while, then shifted to Nigeria. Kazakhstan had a turn, and Russia too.

Now Bulgaria is in the news – and makes its first appearance today in the FCPA Blog.

On admission to the European Union last year, Bulgaria promised to clean up its public-corruption mess. The reform plan called for new laws and tougher enforcement. None of that happened, though, and the EU now says the country is slipping backwards– into money laundering, a mafia – government alliance, and even contract killings. The EU says it may freeze the rest of the country’s accession money.

“Bulgaria itself has to make the commitment to cleanse its administration and ensure that the generous support it receives from the EU actually reaches its citizens and is not siphoned off by corrupt officials, operating together with organized crime,” the EU said in the draft of an official progress report. That report hasn’t been released but was leaked to the global media last week.

Being under the world’s anti-corruption spotlight isn’t comfortable. Bulgaria’s leaders will feel the heat to make a choice: get rid of the sleaze or lose global credibility — along with public international aid and legitimate foreign private investment.

View reports from the International Herald Tribune and the Financial Times.

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