Bulgarian prosecutors on Friday morning began searches and seizures in 17 homes and administrative buildings in conjunction with investigation of illegal payments for construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, officials said. The Sofia City Prosecution Office said in a press release that the investigation was focused on payments for consulting services on the Belene nuclear power plant, which the state-owned company NEK EAD made after parliament\'s decision taken in March 2012 to stop the construction of the project. The investigation concerned misappropriation of large amounts of funds, 18 million euros (24.3 million U.S. dollars), representing a particularly serious case, prosecutors said. In the interests of the investigation and the secrecy, the prosecution would announce more details \"after the lifting of the relevant charges to persons whose detention is envisaged during the operation,\" the press release said. The 2,000-megawatt Belene nuclear power plant was approved in 2005. The Russian company Atomstroyexport, an engineering branch of the state-owned Rosatom, won the bid to build the project in 2006. The project was frozen after the GERB party came to power in July 2009 but meanwhile Russia had already built one reactor for the plant.