On 3 October 2017, the Round Table ”Improving Cooperation between Enforcement Agencies and Civic Investigative Groups to Counter Transborder Corruption” took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. The event was organised by the Fighting Transborder Corruption Expert Group by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee in cooperation with the BlueLink Foundation and further anticorruption NGOs from Bulgaria.
Investigators and journalists as well as anticorruption prosecutors from different European countries discussed problems impeding an effective countering international corruption by the EU law enforcement units.
One of the major speakers at the round table was anticorruption prosecutor José Grinda (Spain), who has been dealing exactly with mafia structures from Russia, which have been laundering stolen assets in that country, and is one of key prosecutors, who enabled imprisonment of representatives of the Tambov and the Malyshev organised crime groups in Spain.
Besides, the round table was attended by Luigi De Ficchy (Italy), Prosecutor of the City of Perugia, the author of a big report on Russian mafia (2011) and its ties to the Italian mafia. The loss related to the activities of the Russian mafia in Europe is so devastating that it ‘overplays the loss related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.,’ so De Ficchy. Nevertheless, the world as a whole is involved in fighting terrorism and not corruption or organised crime.
Another participant of the expert meeting was Andrei Zykov (Russia), former senior public investigator for especially important cases at the Branch of the Ministry of Interior in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, who was leading on the so-called “Putin case”, or the “21st Trust” case in 1999-2001. At the end of 1990s, Zykov’s investigation group discovered frauds with apartments, whch were received by officials of the Administration of St. Petersburg and not those on the “waiting list“.
Finally, Vitali Kravets (Ukraine), Prosecutor of the Specialised Anticorruption Prosecution of the General Prosecutor’s Office, reported on implementation of anticorruption reforms in that country and a cooperation between prosecutors and investigative journalists.
For the civil society, the round table was attended by journalists and investigators of Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Mediapart, the Fighting Transborder Corruption Expert Group, local activists.
Besides, this event was the first large gathering of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in Bulgaria. This is especially important in the run-up of the country holding the chair in the Council of the European Union in the first half of the next year as well as the 8th Forum’s General Assembly to be carried out in Sofia on 16-18 May 2018.