The EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF) raised suspicion that Elios, a company formerly connected to István Tiborcz, the prime minister's son-in-law, operated fraudulently in public procurement processes for public lighting projects.Continue reading
The co-president of the Socialist party (MSZP) announced a lawsuit against the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in connection with the Elios case involving the Prime Minister’s son-in-law that raised suspicion of corruption. According to Bertalan Tóth, the authoritative body refuses to disclose documentation in a bid to “cover up” for PM Orbán.
“As it is well known, one of the symbols of Orbán’s mafia state is the Elios case, on which the press has been reporting the corrupt misappropriation of more than HUF 10 billion (EUR 28 million) of public money from public lighting tenders, and the case traces directly to the Prime Minister,” Tóth wrote in a Facebook post.
The Socialist politician refers to the August ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that established that the documentation of the case could be published. He then turned to OLAF for the papers; the European Commission, however, first extended the deadline for examining his request, then rejected it by tacit agreement. “This left me no choice but to bring an action before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg,” the politician said, adding:
It is incomprehensible why the European Commission is covering up in this case. However, after the trial, we will have new evidence and reasons why this corrupt Fidesz regime, rotten to the core, must be thrown out, why we must join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, and why the rule of law and democracy must be restored.”
OLAF announced in February 2018 that it had uncovered “serious irregularities” and “conflicts of interest” related to the tendering: 17 out of 35 tenders were found to be based on an organized fraud mechanism: they were written out in a way that only Elios Innovative Zrt. or its consortium could have won it.
Despite the Hungarian authorities saying they hadn’t found irregularities, one year later, the Orbán administration still decided to leave the Elios project out of those financed by the EU, meaning that Hungarian taxpayers had to eventually settle the bill for the project, which came to HUF 13 billion (EUR 36.4 million).
According to the opposition, this move was nothing less than a confession that Tiborcz’s business interests appropriated EU funds in an illegitimate and corrupt way.
In the aftermath of the case, Tiborcz actually left the company in 2015 (while his legal involvement kept changing between 2009 and 2015), and news about the firm’s dissolution without legal succession was made public last October.
In the featured photo: MSZP co-leader Bertalan Tóth. Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI