EU’s Concerns about Orban’s Inner Circle
EU spending in Hungary has been flagged by a European parliamentary watchdog days after the European Anti-Fraud’s Office (OLAF) report on problematic public contracts linked to a company owned by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s son-in-law was made public by 24.hr.
the Guardian reported Monday.German MEP Ingeborg Graessle who leads the parliament’s budgetary control committee (CONT) noted serious issues with how tenders for public projects were awarded. CONT’s report found that 36% of public project tenders in Hungary had a single bidder,
This isn’t the first time flags have been raised about EU money being funneled into the pockets of Orban’s close circle.
Istvan Tiborcz, Orban’s son-in-law, was the subject of an OLAF investigation into the prices of streetlights that were supplied by his company Elios, at almost 50% more than market price. Direkt36, an investigative organization originally published a report detailing that Elios received municipal projects worth millions of euros despite being a relatively new company with low starting capital.
In another OLAF investigation, the Office recommended that EU institutions request a return of €283 million (US$346 million) used for a project to build a metro line in Budapest that was found to be riddled with “fraud and possibly corruption.”
Graessle commented to the Guardian that increased regulation to prevent conflicts of interest is necessary to prevent business oligarchs from using the EU as a “cash register.”
Orban commented in December that Hungary is not dependent on EU funds.