Macedonia will have to return some of the money it has received from the EU for education and culture projects if allegations of fraud committed by government officials prove to be true.
Brussels has already frozen funds allocated for this sector and is currently conducting an investigation that should determine where some 260,000 euros have gone, the EU office in Skopje told media.
According to media reports, the head of the government education and mobility agency Bosko Neloski is suspected of allegedly allocating fund money to his own NGO “Oko”, which he headed until recently when his cousin replaced him.
“We have recommended to the executive board [of the agency] to immediately investigate the case, to check the facts and if there really is some unethical conduct, to discharge the director,” Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said on Saturday.
He noted that the courts may decide on possible legal charges against Neloski.
But media say the head of the agency’s executive board Violata Naumovska might be involved in the scandal too. They mention her as being involved in the “Council of Youth NGO’s”, an organisation that also gets money from the same funds.
In a statement for the local A1 TV, Nelovski denied any misdeeds. “The national agency works according to the rules and procedures of the European Commission,” he said briefly.
Neloski is also a member of the executive committee of the Youth Organisation of the main ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party.
If the allegations against him and other officials prove to be true, the country could be asked to return the money, and face a loss of credibility.