Hungary: OCCRP Partner Investigation Sparks Police Probe
Police in Hungary have launched a criminal inquiry into revelations that a consortium falsified public procurement documents in the construction of a Budapest health clinic, following an investigation by OCCRP partner Direkt36.
The October investigation by Direkt36 uncovered how the consortium led by the company EU-Line had falsely claimed to have done similar construction work when they bid for the 1 billion forint (US$ 3.4 million) contract in the Hungarian capital’s Jozsefvaros district. The contract was awarded in January 2015.
Istvan Tenyi, a citizen activist known for peppering authorities with criminal complaints based on news reports, contacted police after reading Direkt36’s report.
The investigation is being conducted by the Budapest Metropolitan Police’s anti-corruption unit, the police press office told Direkt36 in a written statement on Tuesday. No one has yet been charged.
Falsifying documents is punishable with up to one year in prison under Hungary’s criminal code.
The clinic’s renovation was finished at the end of 2015. The municipality of Jozsefvaros, led by mayor Mate Kocsis, a prominent politician of the governing Fidesz party, told Direkt36 in a September statement that they had no plans to look into the procurement.
”It’s not the municipality’s responsibility to check tender bidders’ ownership structures or the truthfulness of their references,” the municipality said.
The municipality and EU-line did not respond to questions sent by Direkt36 after it was revealed police were conducting an investigation.
EU-Line was awarded a new contract by Jozsefvaros following Direkt36’s story on the clinic. On Oct. 13, three days after the story was published, the municipality signed a 35 million forint contract with the company to renovate a local kindergarten.
The municipality did not respond to questions from Direkt36 about the deal.