Politics

Under-Fire Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács Denies Budgetary Fraud And Spying Accusations

Béla Kovács, an MEP of the opposition radical nationalist Jobbik party, denied accusations of budgetary fraud and spying for Russia at his questioning by Hungary’s central investigating prosecutor.

Before questioning by Hungary’s central investigating prosecutor on Wednesday in Budapest, Kovács said he wanted to draw a line under the criminal charges against him. Kovacs told journalists in front of the prosecution headquarters that he would ask for the case to be concluded as quickly as possible. “If they think they have the appropriate quantity of evidence, then they should raise charges against me, and I’d like to clear myself in court,” he said. “But if there isn’t the appropriate quantity of evidence, then I’d ask them to end the procedure…” he added.

Speaking at a press conference after the hearing, Kovács denied that he had spied against EU institutions for Russia or any other country. He insisted that the case against him had been concocted by the ruling Fidesz party. Kovács said he would welcome if authorities decided not to raise charges against him, but would prefer that they did, because that way he could clear himself in court. He also denied that it was Jobbik leader Gábor Vona who had pressed him to appear at the hearing.

Addressing the espionage allegations, he said meeting diplomats was part of his job as MEP, noting that he had met with diplomats from Russia and other countries. But these meetings “were never conspiratorial”, he insisted. He also pointed out that his job as co-leader of the joint energy working committee of the European and Russian parliaments had also involved accompanying Russian delegations to Paks, where Hungary is upgrading its sole nuclear power plant with a loan from Russia.

Richárd Simon, deputy spokesman for the central investigating prosecutor, told journalists after the hearing that Kovács is accused of having signed “fictitious” internship contracts with four private individuals in 2012-2013 for four-month and six-month periods. The European Parliament transferred 28,000 euros to Kovács in connection with the contracts. The prosecutor’s office has concluded that the interns did not exist, Simon said. A further three individuals are implicated in the case, he said, adding that they, too, would be questioned.

István Hollik, MP of the ruling Fidesz-allied Christian Democrats, said in reaction that not much could be known about Kovács from today’s hearing at the prosecutor’s office, but it was confirmed that Kovács had met Russian diplomats. “Now the time has come for Gábor Vona to give a reason why Kovács has been walled up until now,” he added.

According to Béla Kovács, however, the case against him had been concocted by the ruling Fidesz party in order to discredit him personally as well as the Jobbik party.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI; photos: Zoltán Balogh – MTI