Bulgaria urges probe about alleged corruption in choosing contractor to build nuclear plant

The Ministry of Energy urged Thursday a probe about allegations of corruption a Canadian company has made in Bulgaria’s selection of a contractor to build its second nuclear power plant.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has turned over to police and its internal auditors an unsigned letter saying Bulgarian government officials want bribes of US$40 million to US$80 million in return for approving the project, Canadian daily Globe and Mail reported.

“It is of Bulgaria’s best interest to clarify the case and if there is an attempt of abuse of powers it will be punished,” the ministry said. It said it would continue talks with AECL on the project.

The daily quoted the letter as saying that some of the money would be funneled to the officials through overpayments that would be made to local Bulgarian subcontractors chosen to work on the project. Other payments would be made to agents working on cementing the deal, the letter said.

AECL is part of an international consortium interested in working on a mothballed Bulgarian nuclear power station worth an estimated some US$1 billion at a site near the Danube port of Belene.

Bulgaria suspended the project in 1990 for cash reasons and environmentalist opposition, but the government of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha wants to restart construction.

The government has to chose between two basic options for the plant – an AECL-made CANDU heavy water reactor or a VVER-1000 type of reactor proposed by other international bidders including U.S. Westinghouse, Russian Atomexportstroy and Czech Skoda.

Bulgarian News Network, April 29, 2004

Categories: Corruption, Odious Debts

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