Bulgarian authorities bust fraudulent passport scheme

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian authorities say they have busted a criminal ring run by state officials who sold fake documents to foreigners seeking to obtain Bulgarian passports that grant the right to live and work throughout the European Union.

Prosecutors on Tuesday pressed charges against the head of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Petar Haralampiev, who was arrested along with 20 other agency officials in police raids in offices across the country.

Haralampiev and three other senior officials have been charged with setting up an organized crime group, taking bribes, forgery and abuse of office.

The scheme allegedly sold fake certificates proving that applicants have at least one Bulgarian ancestor, allowing foreigners to obtain Bulgarian nationality and identity documents. They allegedly charged 5,000 euros ($5,700) per document.

According to media reports, thousands of people have obtained Bulgarian passports with the fake certificates

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