The minister involved in a fraud for modernizing a key railroad
Krasimir Papukchiyski, appointed by the president Rumen Radev for a Vice Minister of Transport has got ugly skeletons in his closet connected to a corrupt scheme for stealing the colossal amount of almost 300 M BGN that Europe has given for reconstructing and modernizing the railroad Sofia-Pernik-Radomir and in particular – the railroad area Pernik-Radomir.
Extremely embarrassing signals about Papukchiyski’s deeds in his former role as a director of National company ‘Railroad Infrastructure’ has come to our editorial office. While our team is processing and seeking confirmation of the reliability of the information provided to us, we will introduce you to a stubbornly kept secret from both the former managers of "Continuing the Change" and the office of Galab Donev. The silence of their main political opponent, GERB, is also suspicious, which gives rise to doubts about permanent and heavy commitments in the railway transport system in our country.
On January 16, 2022, the department of the then Minister of Transport Nikolay Sabev somehow announced a reshuffle at the top of NKŽI. Until recently, the principal Krasimir Papukchiiski was replaced by Zlatin Krumov, a long-time employee of the railway system. Even more vaguely, the ministry mentions that the first administrative act of the new director is the stopping of a key project for the rail infrastructure worth BGN 300 million. The formal explanation for why former minister Sabev's subordinates are canceling the procedure is "due to revealed violations during its opening."
Sources of "Capital" then shed light that behind the seemingly administrative castellate there are serious doubts about Papukchiiski about flawed procedures surrounding the tender and possible bias of the final winner. According to data available to our editors, at that time DANS received information that, through the mediation of an influential law firm, the former head of NKŽI held "confidential" talks with representatives of 3 companies present in various consortia that had already performed orders for the modernization of other railway sections. In the most advanced phase, there was an agreement "under the table" with a legal entity that had already been selected to prepare the PUP and Technical Project of the same section. The goal was for the companies in question to close the loop, albeit through seemingly unrelated construction companies. Agents of the native FBI analyzed the "technical errors" in question made by Papukchiiski's subordinates from the NKJI in the tender documentation and came to a reasonable assumption that the "omissions and ambiguities" in question, as the ministry casually calls them, were made in order to fit the technical parameters for "raw materials, parts and other materials" with which the company wishing to win the procedure worked. What's more - the allegedly mistaken conditions stuck like a glove to the parameters with which the alleged future contractor operated at other sites.
Amounts that were particularly large in the sense of the law were also detected, which were transferred to the account of the law firm in question. If we believe our sources, we are talking about several tranches with a total value of BGN 300 thousand. in the form of legal and consulting services transferred to 4 law firms connected to each other.
Employees of the law firms in question were caught having lunch in the center of Sofia with a person who was officially and closely related to Krasimir Papukchiiski.
There is no information on how far the investigation has progressed and whether the data collected in DANS will ever see the light of day. It is not clear whether the investigators brought the data to the attention of the Minister of Transport, who hastily replaced the director of NKŽI without specific reasons. Whether the money received in the attorney's trust accounts was intended for the "advance fee" of Papukchiiski, on whose signature the winner depended, is a question that must be answered in court and before OLAF.
The suspended procedure for the modernization of the railway section Pernik - Radomir is divided into two lots: modernization of the railway and contact network with an estimated value of BGN 242.5 million excluding VAT and the second - "Design, construction and author's supervision of signaling and telecommunications systems" with an estimated price of BGN 32.1 million excluding VAT. The procedure was terminated due to established violations during its opening, the ministry explains, as they are related to errors made by NKŽI when preparing the technical specification, which lead to a contradiction in the texts formulating the scope of activity that should be performed within the framework of the agreed term. The status of the public procurement at the time of termination was the preparation of bids, and there were many requests for clarification on it from potential participants, the Ministry of Transport specifies.
The section is also part of the Orient/Eastern Mediterranean Corridor and the proposed project will contribute to removing bottlenecks and improving the quality of rail infrastructure.
The project includes the activities on the modernization of the section from Pernik-Razdelitna station to Radomir station with a linear length of 17 km. The project provides for expropriation procedures, technical design for the Batanovtsi bypass, working drawings for the Batanovtsi bypass and for the Pernik - Radomir section; ground canvas, according to the technical requirements; reinforced and protected slopes of trenches and embankments; works on the railway and contact network on the Pernik-Radomir section; new facilities (drainage; railway facilities, including tunnels and bridges; underpasses and overpasses; contact network and power supply; security equipment and telecommunications; noise protection facilities); modernization and construction of station facilities; reconstructed intersections with technical infrastructure.
For the investment proposal, a procedure was carried out to assess the need to carry out an EIA, combined with the OS procedure, which ended with Decision No. 3-PR/2016 of the Minister of Environment and Water, with the character "not to carry out an EIA".
A year later, the "Petkov" cabinet, which was ousted in the summer of 2022, did not say a word about what these suspicions were and which companies were preparing to grab the BGN 300 million pie. Former minister Nikolay Sabev, who was otherwise one of the most outspoken representatives of the government, has also suffered from amnesia. Even Papukchiiski's blatant subsequent attacks on him were unable to open his mouth for the railway chief. Radio silence is also maintained by the caretaker government, where Papukchiiski is perceived as one of the most influential, albeit shrouded in mystery, figures.
In order to shed more light on who and why would be interested in taxing themselves with the fat 300 million BGN, 85% of which come out of the pockets of European taxpayers, our editors are preparing questions for the former Minister of Transport Nikolay Sabev, as well as for his successor from the office appointed by Gen. Rumen Radev.
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