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Seven Bulgaria customs officials arrested for taking bribes at Turkey border crossing

Seven customs officials have been charged with being part of an organized crime group that took bribes at the Lesovo border crossing in exchange for letting cars and trucks pass through without inspections.

During a special police operation at the busy Lesovo border crossing between Bulgaria and Turkey on Saturday, 24 customs officials were detained, according to Deputy Chief Prosecutor Borislav Sarafov.

Prosecutors so far have brought charges against seven of them. Five of those arrested were held in police custody and two were released on bail, the Sofia News Agency said.

One of those arrested was Dimitar Kolev, director of the Lesovo border crossing.

He was detained Saturday while taking an envelope containing about $6,400 from a shift supervisor.

The supervisor, Georgi Banev, was also among those indicted, Sofia News said.

During a search of Kolev’s home, police found $53,000 in different currencies, the report said.

“Money envelopes were also found at the homes of the other customs officials, as well as at the Lesovo border crossing, where they had been stored in hidden compartments at the room for storing confiscated items,” Sofia News said.

Authorities have so far confiscated $140,000.

The customs officials charged cars from Turkey a bribe of $6 to $12 to avoid customs inspections, and trucks paid $100 to $200.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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