Bulgaria's Trump wannabe in extortion investigation

13 July 2017 - 13:46 By afp.com
Veselin Mareshki.
Veselin Mareshki.
Image: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A colourful Bulgarian politician and deputy speaker of parliament who likes to be compared with US President Donald Trump is being investigated for alleged extortion, prosecutors said Thursday.

Veselin Mareshki founder of the opposition Volya ("Will") party and of Bulgaria's largest chain of pharmacies, is accused of trying to intimidate business rivals.

He allegedly made threats of violence against seven pharmacies between 2012 and 2015 and pressed others to buy medicines made by his firm or be driven into bankruptcy, prosecutors said.

Mareshki was elected to parliament for the first time in elections in March promising to drain the swamp of Bulgarian politics and to break up monopolies. His party won 12 seats in parliament.

Brussels has long pressed the poorest member of the European Union to do more to tackle graft, cronyism and organised crime since the ex-communist country joined the bloc in 2007.