Bertalan Tóth, co-chair of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP, pictured), announced on Facebook yesterday that he was taking legal action against OLAF, the European Commission’s anti-fraud office. Tóth’s grievance against the EU agency is over their investigation into Elios Zrt., which was previously owned by the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz.
The MSZP politician has been trying for months to obtain OLAF’s files on their investigation into the Elios case through a public interest request, but to no avail.
The document, entitled “Rapport final de l’Office européen de lutte antifraude (OLAF) OF/2015/0034/B4 relatif aux activités d’éclairage public de Élios Innovatív Zrt.,” contains everything that EU fraud investigators have learned about the case, but they aren’t willing to share it.
Tóth requested the document in early September last year. The deadline for processing his request was then extended in October, and after that he hasn’t heard anything from Brussels one way or another. He believes the information should be released and that they should have at least provided justification for their passivity, and is launching a lawsuit against the Commission in the European Court of Justice to force the matter.
Investigative outlet Direkt 36 first wrote about the Elios case back in 2015. István Tiborcz’s former company had begun upgrading public lighting in several municipalities with EU money not only at vastly overinflated prices, but Elios personnel had also taken part in setting up the public procurements.
The scandal grew to such an extent that the Hungarian government finally withdrew the program from its list of EU-funded investments, and instead provided funding for it from its own resources to stave off Brussels from levying fines against Hungary.
Tóth stated that it was incomprehensible why EU bodies were “covering” for the Hungarian government over this matter.