Bulgarian Interior Ministry, UK Home Office officials discuss organized crime BBC - 2005/3/2
Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov, his deputy Boyko Kotsev and Interior Ministry Chief Secretary General Boyko Borisov met with Caroline Flint, parliamentary undersecretary of state (minister) at the UK Home Office and William Hughes, director general of the UK's Serious Organized Crime Agency, who arrived on a visit to Sofia on Tuesday [1 March]. The participants in the meeting discussed future joint bilateral activities to counteract organized crime.

Britain will help, if needed, in the investigation of the IRA case in which Bulgaria's name was involved, Flint said, emerging from the meeting.

The guests were familiarized with the newly passed Act on Forfeiture of Property Obtained Through Criminal Means in whose drafting the authors used British and Irish expertise. "We discussed the cooperation so far along several projects for combating drugs trafficking, human trafficking, fighting corruption and organized crime," Petkanov told a news conference after the meeting.

"I am glad to be in Bulgaria and that we had an opportunity to discuss your country's progress with regard to internal law and order," Flint said, quoted by the press office of the Interior Ministry. She said that the problems connected with organized crime are common as such crime does not recognize borders. The British guest expressed satisfaction with the successful joint operations of the Bulgarian and British services and with the fruitful cooperation in the reforms in the Interior Ministry. Flint said also she was pleased that Britain's experience proved useful in the passing of the act for forfeiture of property obtained through illegal means and noted the law will be a serious instrument in combating organized crime.

The British official said her country is ready to assist in any investigation for money laundering. She congratulated Bulgaria on the strict enforcement of EU directives against this crime.

The visit of the Brutish guests continues until 2 March, when they are expected to attend a discussion on "Combating Organized Crime in the 21st Century," organized on the initiative of the Centre for the Study of Democracy.

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