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North Macedonia official arrested on suspicion of bribery

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s police said Monday they arrested a senior government official suspected of receiving a bribe of nearly 38,000 euros ($43,000) to favor a company that was granted European Union financing.

Police said a state secretary and former head of department in North Macedonia’s Ministry of Information, identified only by his initials J.J., was suspected of unlawfully granting nearly 1.1 million euros from a 1.2 million fund in 2014-2016 that is part of an EU program for the bloc’s candidate countries.

Another civil servant is being sought in connection with the case.

Police said the suspects had been under investigation for two months, in cooperation with Europe’s anti-fraud office OLAF and authorities in Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Britain and other European countries.

Prosecutors said the other countries’ authorities participated in the investigation as the companies involved in the case had business partners in those locations.

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North Macedonia hopes to start accession talks with the EU this fall at the latest and one of the main conditions set for entry is for the country to tackle corruption.

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