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WASHINGTON: The United States blacklisted six Bulgarians including an influential gambling tycoon Wednesday for their “extensive” roles in corruption, in a rare action by Washington against a member of the European Union.

The US Treasury named businessman Vasil Kroumov Bozhkov, former parliamentarian Delyan Slavchev Peevski, and government official Ilko Dimitrov Zhelyazkov, to its sanctions list, which freezes any assets they have under US jurisdiction, and bans Americans, including individuals and companies, from doing business with them.

The Treasury also placed 64 companies and entities tied to the three men on the blacklist.

Meanwhile the State Department officially designated Peevski, Zhelyazkov, and former officials Alexander Manolev, Petar Haralampiev, Krasimir Tomov, as well as their immediate families, for “significant corruption,” a step that blocks them from visiting the United States.

As government officials they “were involved in corrupt acts that undermined the rule of law and the Bulgarian public’s faith in their government’s democratic institutions and public processes, including by using their political influence and official power for personal benefit,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price. Bozhkov, one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful men, has been charged in Bulgaria with leading an organized crime group, coercion, attempted bribery and tax evasion.

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