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Government Official: M4 Construction Most Corrupt Case Of Hungary’s 13-Year EU Membership

By Tamás Székely // 2017.01.17.

Around 167 billion forints worth of damages have been identified by Europe’s anti-fraud office OLAF in connection with Budapest’s fourth metro construction project, and the European Commission could levy a fine on Hungary of 76.6 billion forints (EUR 249m), Nándor Csepreghy, parliamentary state secretary for the prime minister’s office, told a news conference.

The state secretary said the metro construction project (2006-2014) had been the most corrupt case in the history of Hungary’s 13-year European Union membership. he said that OLAF had identified almost 167 billion forints had been either “stolen or squirrelled away”, and this money should be recovered for the European and the Hungarian authorities. Out of this sum, 76.6 billion forints was handed over by the EU in development funds, and Brussels could demand it back, he said.

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said today that it demanded the government immediately release the OLAF report. The party’s city council representative Erzsébet Gy Németh said she could not understand why it would be in the cabinet’s interest not to release the document. She insisted that the government had already disputed the outcomes of European investigations into “earlier corruption” cases, yet now they would be prepared to pay the fine in order to “make an example of the previous city leadership”. Were it the case that the report related to the project under the governments prior to 2010 rather than to the ruling Fidesz party, then the document would have formed the basis for “Fidesz propaganda”, she insisted. The corrupt individuals, regardless of whether they happen to be Fidesz politicians or not, should be the ones punished, Gy Németh said.

The opposition Együtt party said the case surrounding the metro 4 project highlighted the need for an EU public prosecutor’s office. If the Hungarian authorities are incapable of protecting Hungarian and European taxpayers, there is a need for a new institution, Márton Pataki, head of the party’s Budapest chapter, told a press conference. The news surrounding the fourth metro line indicates that the Hungarian prosecutor’s office led by Péter Polt, along with the country’s justice system, are “near collapse or have already failed”, he said. Pataki noted that both the Budapest mayor’s office and the State Audit Office had each compiled their own reports about the case in 2010, after which they had filed criminal complaints. He said it was “outrageous” that while the crime had been committed in Hungary, the investigation into it had been conducted by foreign authorities. Pataki called the government’s criminal complaint filed over the project an “empty PR stunt”.

via and MTI