Hungary by atlatszo.hu
This is how authorities sabotaged the fraud investigation against Orban’s son-in-law
István Tiborcz, the Hungarian prime minister’s son-in-law entered the exclusive club of the 100 richest people of Hungary. Moreover, with his 33 years, he is the youngest of the richest Hungarians. According to the list, Tiborcz is worth 35 billion Hungarian forints (approximately 109 million euros at today’s exchange rate). Tiborcz was the key character in the so-called Elios scandal, one of the most high-profile corruption cases of the past few years. Nobody was convicted in the case and two investigations have been closely connected to Elios already. Atlatszo published an extensive analysis this week arguing that the National Bureau of Investigation sabotaged the investigation and that the agency overseeing the investigation, the Pest County Chief Prosecutor’s Office assisted investigators in this. We argue that this constitutes abuse of office and aiding and abetting a crime.
OLAF, the European anti-corruption agency sent the result of two years of its work to Hungarian authorities at the beginning of 2018, recommending legal action over “serious irregularities” and “conflict of interest” connected to Elios Zrt.
The company won contracts to install new street lights in towns across the country in 2011-2015. The 35 contracts in question were worth €40 million, financed by EU funds.
During the time of the signing of these contracts, István Tiborcz co-owned and managed the company. Tiborcz is prime minister Viktor Orban’s son-in-law.
In the past year, it became clear how exactly Elios made sure it would win the public tenders. The details were revealed by the letters sent by OLAF to Hungarian towns who won EU funds for new public lights and then contracted Elios to install them. Most of these letters were revealed after Atlatszo filed a freedom of information request with each municipality in question.
Read the details here:
News broke in January that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) had finished a two-year investigation into EU-funded street light modernization programs in Hungary. OLAF found that there were serious irregularities and possible conflicts of interest concerning 35 such contracts.
The government of Hungary decided in the end not to send the invoices connected to Elios to Brussels – that is, no EU funds are used to pay Elios. Hungarian taxpayers are footing the bill.
This means that OLAF no longer has any right to investigate the matter. OLAF cannot prosecute, either – it can only share its findings with national authorities. It is the job of the national police and the prosecutor to press charges.
Hungarian police have already closed down two investigations regarding Elios, citing ’lack of crime committed.’ The second investigation was closed last November.
However, according to experts on criminal law that Atlatszo contacted, the police should have concluded that what happened was a misappropriation of funds and state budget fraud committed in a criminal organization. However, there are certain key details of the case that were not uncovered – and should have been uncovered if the investigation had been done properly.
The letters by OLAF that were sent to the municipalities make it possible to reconstruct what happened and they include details that clearly suggest that crimes were committed.
These pieces of information should not have been overlooked by investigators and prosecutors – but they were.
News broke in January that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) finished a two-year investigation into EU-funded street light modernization programs in Hungary.
The fact that investigators overlooked these key pieces of information and certain pieces of evidence suggest that the police is guilty of abuse of office. The overseeing authority, the Pest County Prosecutor’s office is guilty of aiding and abetting a crime.
Considering that the police and the prosecution both are strictly hierarchical organizations, it is possible to conclude exactly which investigators and prosecutors and their supervisors are responsible for the above crimes.
Atlatszo’s analysis proves the above claims in a series of arguments. The Hungarian-language story, mostly based on OLAF’s letter, explains how Elios committed the fraud and exactly which crimes were probably committed by the company then owned by Tiborcz.
Based on interviews with experts, the story also explains how a proper investigation is conducted, and what was lacking in the Elios-investigation.
The story organizes the arguments in seven points by the seven most probable crimes committed by Elios. Each of these seven points is organized in a way that it explains a) the facts revealed by the OLAF letters b) what crimes were committed, based on the facts c) how it should have been investigated d) and the fact that the investigation could have confirmed.
Based on the list of these arguments we conclude that it should have been impossible for the police to arrive at the conclusion that no crimes were committed. This means that investigators purposefully overlooked facts and thus aided those who committed the crimes.
One of the biggest political scandals of the past few months was the so-called Elios scandal in Hungary. OLAF, the European anti-corruption agency sent the result of two years of its work to Hungarian authorities in the winter, recommending legal action over “serious irregularities” and “conflict of interest” connected to Elios Zrt.
Written by András Becker
English-language summary by Anita Komuves. You can read the complete, much more detailed analysis in Hungarian here.