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Bulgarian senior official charged in fraud scheme

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian prosecutors have charged the prime minister's chief of staff with aiding in the embezzlement of European Union funds, two weeks after charges were pressed against two top magistrates in the same case.

Prosecutors said on Thursday that Maria Divizieva had helped the magistrates to make incorrect statements in an EU-funded project worth hundreds of thousands euros. In 2009, Divizieva who was then in charge of an EU aid program, had allegedly facilitated the fraud scheme. Divizieva, a top aide to Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, denied any wrongdoing and called the charge a "huge misunderstanding."

The European Commission is closely monitoring Bulgaria's progress in reforming its judiciary since joining the bloc in 2007, and has repeatedly voiced concern over widespread corruption and the failure to convict high-ranking officials.

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