Bulgaria”s interim prime minister has urged the government to redouble its efforts to fight corruption.
Stefan Yanev called for changes in Bulgaria’s prosecutors’ offices, the judiciary and all law enforcement agencies.
Yanev — who was only appointed to the temprary role last month — held a meeting with the Bulgarian government security council on Monday to discuss new anti-corruption policies.
It comes after the United States announced sanctions on Bulgarian officials and businessmen for their alleged “extensive” roles in corruption.
Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Bulgarian media mogul Delyan Peevski, oligarch Vassil Bozhkov, and former national security official Ilko Zhelyazkov, accusing them of public corruption.
It also imposed sanctions on 64 citizens and companies supposedly linked to them, saying the move was its single biggest action targeting corruption to date. The sanctions effectively prevent those affected freezes their US assets and prevents them accessing American financial systems.
Yanev said the Bulgarian government will try to minimise the political and the economic impact of the sanctions.
“We must protect state-owned companies from financial sanctions being imposed,” Yanev said in a statement.
But the interim prime minister admitted that the situation was a serious indication that corruption was still prevalent in Bulgaria.
“Corruption in Bulgaria has deep roots in the political and economic system of the country and the problems and consequences in this regard go beyond our national borders,” he said.
“There is no way we can have a stable political system, a prosperous economy, or a functioning social system without solving the fundamental problems with corruption.”
The EU member state has been repeatedly criticised in Europe for failing to effectively fight corruption under former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Bulgaria’s interim government was appointed after a staleate general election in April. The country is due to hold a fresh vote in July.