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Defence Ministry Official Sacked Over Real Estate Deals - Sophia Echo

Petar Pandourski was dismissed from his post as head of Defence Ministry's state property executive agency, the ministry's press service said on May 8 2008.

The reason why Defence Minister Nikolai Tsonev had decided to sack Pandourski was because he did not carry out Tsonev's order to halt deals involving swapping real estate owned by the ministry, the statement read.

Pandourski will be replaced by Krassimira Goranova, current head of the ministry's administration agency.

Pandourski is the first "victim" of Tsonev's checks into the ministry's activity. When he took the post on April 24 2008 from Vesselin Bliznakov, Tsonev said that he would initiate a thorough investigation of ministry's work.

On April 29 he ordered all deals with ministry's properties to be stopped. Tsonev made the statement in light of media reports about lack of transparency in deals with property owned by the ministry.

He succeeded Bliznakov in the Cabinet reshuffle on April 22. Bulgarian-language media at the time said that one reason that Bliznakov was dismissed was alleged lack of transparency in transactions involving defence ministry real estate.

The issue with deal involving Defence Ministry's real estate deals was thrust in the media spotlight in 2007.

After the latest personnel cuts in the Bulgarian military, involving the discharge of hundreds of officers and the closing down of units and military bases, the military was left with hundreds of properties of all kinds. No longer needed, the properties were put up for sale.

Bliznakov was given the right to personally approve the deals and to decide which properties would be sold and which would be swapped for other properties that could better serve the military needs.

The argument behind this decision was that it was the ministry, and not the state as a whole, that would be the sole beneficiary of the deals.

The problem with these deals was that while information on the properties was put on the ministry's website, no information was released about the outcomes of the deals, Bulgarian-language media said. Officials and business people objected to the lack of transparency.

Interesting fact is that Tsonev himself has been a Ministry employee since 1999. He did not deny the fact that one of his companies had supplied the army with bread during his days as head of the Ministry's supply management directorate.