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Bulgarian PM Again Faces Money-Laundering Allegations

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov speaks to journalists in Brussels on February 21.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov speaks to journalists in Brussels on February 21.

Anti-corruption prosecutors in the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia are investigating a money-laundering case with possible links to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Business News Europe reported on February 23, citing a newspaper in Barcelona.

Borisov denies owning property in Spain.

According to a front-page article first published by El Periodico on February 21, police are investigating the origin of 5 million euros ($5.4 million) that former Bulgarian model Borislava Yovcheva, her father, and two companies received from people living outside of Spain since 2013.

The article cited police records it purportedly has seen alleging that the money of suspicious origin "might be related to undeclared funds of high-ranking officials in the Bulgarian government."

Catalonian police on February 21 confirmed to RFE/RL that they were conducting an investigation but declined to give details, including whether the Bulgarian prime minister was implicated.

"We don't provide information on pending investigations," the police press service said.

In 2015, a leaked conversation between two judges and an unknown third individual included the allegation that Borisov had bought property worth 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) for a girlfriend in Barcelona.

Bulgarian investigative news outlet several years ago published a report saying that Borisov had bought Yovcheva a villa in Spain, allegations that he has repeatedly denied.

Speaking to journalists on February 21 at the European Council in Brussels, Borisov denied having ever bought property in Spain.

"I'll say it for the hundredth time -- I don't have a house there, I don't have any property there; the last time I was in Barcelona I was there as a mayor of Sofia 15 years ago," he said.

Borisov then hinted that Russia was behind the recent allegations and accused Bulgarian President Rumen Radev of possibly being involved in smearing him.

"Let them do their investigation but I'm pretty sure this all comes from the East and I'll bet a few [Russian] rubles on that," he told broadcaster Dnevnik.

Borisov then promised to make an official statement once the Spanish investigation is completed or closed.

This is the third time Borisov is prime minister and he has faced accusations at home of not doing enough to eradicate corruption in one of the European Union's poorest countries.

He has replaced nine ministers so far amid various scandals involving graft.

His two previous stints as prime minister ended in resignation.

With reporting by BNE-Intellinews, Balkan Insight, A Coruna, El Periodico, and Dnevnik
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