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Fidesz MP Simonka’s Immunity Suspended Once Again

Hungary Today 2021.02.23.

Fidesz lawmaker György Simonka’s immunity has been suspended once again, following yesterday’s vote in the National Assembly. This time he will undergo proceedings for the bribery attempt of two individuals involved in a tax fraud case for which he has been facing trial. He still denies all of the charges.

Simonka had to renounce his immunity for two counts of bribery in a criminal proceeding. He is suspected of wanting to bribe one of the detained suspects in order to prevent him from testifying against him. Furthermore, he is thought to have wanted to have one of the witnesses make a favorable testimony in his giant, ongoing tax fraud case.

It was back in October 2018, when his immunity was suspended for the first time. Beginning in January 2020, along with 32 of his associates, he is being tried for having committed tax fraud within a criminal organization, causing particularly serious financial damage and other criminal offenses. According to the prosecutor’s office, the financial damage stemming from the scheme he has been involved in exceeded HUF 1.4 billion (EUR 3.9 million).

Fact

György Simonka worked as an agricultural entrepreneur in Békés County in the 2000s. In 2006, he became mayor of the 400-inhabitant Pusztaottlaka. In 2010, the Fidesz politician made it to Parliament and won the seat again in 2014 and 2018. According to the indictment, he and his associates unlawfully sought to obtain EU funds and domestic support intended for vegetable and fruit farming groups and organizations. They are suspected of having overvalued the equipment purchases and bought low-value properties for the cooperatives, then carried out minor developments and submitted fictitious estimates in their bids for the funds.

This time Simonka didn’t take the opportunity to speak up, although he explained that he had received the invitation too late. He, however, opposed the decision, claiming that his immunity had been suspended on the basis of a confession made four years ago by one criminal, through which this one person was acquitted from liability for his previous crimes. In a seven-page letter addressed to the immunity committee, he criticized both the investigation and the chief prosecutor (who is regularly accused by opposition politicians of playing according to ruling Fidesz’ playbook). Simonka still insists on not having committed any of the crimes.

featured photo by Tibor Rosta/MTI