MSZP MP Csaba Tóth may have been given HUF 280 million (EUR 725,000) in bribes in the corruption case involving four high-ranked Socialist politicians, including Zugló’s incumbent mayor Csaba Horváth. Parliament is expected to lift Tóth’s immunity soon. Independent MP Ákos Hadházy suspects that this case is just the offshoot of a larger one involving the SYS Group, and speculates that even Fidesz officials will be affected.
The case is centered around SYS Group, a consortium consisting of more than 30 companies. Last year, the tax authority (NAV) raided the persons connected to the group for budget fraud committed in a criminal organization. SYS Group is suspected of operating as an invoice factory, evading HUF 19 billion in VAT by means of fictitious invoices through various methods.
The Socialist connection
These latest developments of the case are perhaps the result of the confession made by SYS Group leader Zsolt Fuzik, made through a plea deal with authorities. Reportedly, Fuzik even underwent a polygraph examination, which ‘confirmed’ his testimony.
Up until now, four highly-ranked Socialist (MSZP) politicians are suspected to be involved in the case.
- MSZP party director Zsolt Molnár (who has a qualifying spot on the united opposition’s list), and former Socialist strongman Ferenc Baja may have received bribes from the operation of the IT systems of Budapest’s public transport operator BKV. While Molnár may have received some HUF 40 million, Baja may have received HUF 30 million from Fuzik.
- Incumbent Zugló mayor Csaba Horváth and MP Csaba Tóth may have gotten ‘commission’ from the running of Zugló’s (Budapest’s 14th district, led by the opposition and namely by Gergely Karácsony at the time) parking system by the company.
According to the charges, Tóth and Horváth agreed with the consortium on a significantly overpriced contractor’s fee, which didn’t reflect real market conditions and the actual competitive situation, in order to maximize revenue and resulting profits.
SYS Group would then pay back half of the profits in exchange.
According to the prosecutors, Tóth may have been given some HUF 280 million in total between March 2017 and autumn 2019 for his services.
Tóth denies accusations, his immunity soon to be lifted
As of now, Chief prosecutor Péter Polt requested lifting Tóth’s immunity, which Parliament would most likely do in the near future, as the Committee on Immunity already voted the initiative in.
At the Committee’s meeting, Tóth denied the accusations and that he committed any crime, saying that the allegations listed in the motion are completely unfounded, and he himself requested the suspension of his immunity.
Earlier, Horváth had also denied the charges.
A more complex case, potentially involving Fidesz circles, too?
Independent MP Ákos Hadházy, who is running as the joint opposition candidate in Budapest’s 14th district after beating the aforementioned Tóth at the primaries, claims that the prosecutor’s office is investigating an extremely complex case, this one being only of the offshoots of it.
Fact In fact, liberal Momentum’s decision to run the arguably most active anti-corruption fighter in politics against him, Ákos Hadházy, was “no coincidence,” rather an ironic step, as Tóth has long had a bad reputation for suspicious dealings.
It is likely that a person previously detained in the course of the investigation had made incriminating confessions about the politicians, Hadházy explained. He said that there were certainly grounds for accusing Csaba Horváth, but that the prosecutor’s office should be expected to disclose exactly what crimes were allegedly committed and what evidence there was to prove them.
Hadházy also claimed that Horváth is certainly “not the biggest fish” in the case, and the investigation’s documents reveal the involvement of many high-ranking [governing] Fidesz party officials and raise suspicions of numerous crimes.
featured image: Csaba Tóth in the Parliament; via Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI