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Tag: István Tiborcz

Viktor Orbán’s Son-in-Law the Biggest Winner of Grants for Tourism Development

Companies connected to István Tiborcz, the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, received the largest amount in non-repayable grants given out by the Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTÜ), reports Válasz Online.

MTÜ provided a total of 316.8 billion Ft. (US $845 million) for tourism development between 2018-2022 under the Kisfaludy Program. While many small companies were also able to win tenders for some of this money, the largest amount, 56.4 billion Ft. ($150 million), ended up going to firms associated with the husband of Ráhel Orbán, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s oldest daughter.

In other words, every fifth or sixth forint of Kisfaludy funds enriched the Tiborcz group of companies.

The government’s share for the amount of the tenders was also unusually high, close to 70%. This meant that the winners only have to pay around a third of the value of the proposed development projects, with the state picking up the rest of the bill.

However, Válasz Online also found that the biggest winners of these tenders didn’t even have to pay their own share of the tenders themselves, but received loans from various “friendly” banks for this amount.

These lending institutions included Gránit Bank, MKB, Takarékbank, and OTP, but even the publicly-owned Hungarian Development Bank and the Russian-backed International Investment Bank also lent money to the tender winners, the news site learned. [Népszava]

European Commission Letter to Hungary Explains How the Country Harms the EU Budget

The letter that that European Commission sent to Hungary on launching the conditionality mechanism has been leaked to, writes Telex. The 44-page letter mostly provides details on public procurement issues, and explains how they harm the EU budget and the rule of law.

The letter finds systemic violations in the distribution of cohesion fund money, referring to an investigation by EU anti-fraud office OLAF into 35 public lighting tenders that were won by a former company of István Tiborcz, the Prime Minister’s son-in-law. In the end, the Hungarian state decided to pay for these projects out of its own budget instead of repaying the aid to the European Commission.

Other concerns listed in the letter are serious problems with conflicts of interest, and the fact that around a fifth of EU funding has been granted to a small group of people since 2010.

However, there are no references to the Hungarian family protection law or anti-LGBTQ measures in the letter, which the Hungarian government has claimed is the real reason for launching the mechanism. [Telex]

MSZP Chair suing European Commission over Elios, says the EU is “covering” for Orbán

picture of Bertalan Tóth

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.