23 arrests in crackdown on Bulgarian border corruption


Sofia (AFP)

Twenty-three customs officers and businessmen have been arrested in a probe into corruption at a major checkpoint on Bulgaria's border with Greece, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The investigation focusses on alleged kickbacks by Bulgarian transport firms to let trucks pass through the Kulata border point without a check.

Police carried out 83 raids on the homes of customs offices and transport firms in Kulata and Sofia, and seized 63,000 leva ($36,000, 32,000 euros) in cash, the spokeswoman of the public prosecutor's office, Rumiana Arnaoudova, said.

The operation, launched on Tuesday, led to a six-kilometre (three-mile) tailback of trucks and buses.

The Bulgarian authorities have been embroiled in a years-long effort to stamp out graft, smuggling, tax fraud and human trafficking at the country's border posts.