Surprise, surprise! OLAF found “serious irregularities” on Orbán’s home turf

On January 12 The Wall Street Journal reported that, after a two-year investigation, the European Union’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is recommending legal proceedings over “serious irregularities” found in a company that was co-owned by the son-in-law of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, between 2011 and 2015.

I have been following the rising fortunes of István Tiborcz, the 32-year-old millionaire businessman who married Orbán’s eldest child, Ráhel. A couple of journalists began investigating Tiborcz’s business dealings in the summer of 2014 after Ráhel Orbán boasted on Facebook that she and her husband don’t need her father’s assistance in paying her lofty tuition fees in Switzerland because they “stand on their own two feet” financially. It was this comment that inspired András Becker and Babett Oroszi, two investigative journalists from Átlátszó, to look into Tiborcz’s business affairs. After a few months of hard work they produced a thorough article, published shortly before Christmas 2014. On the same day I wrote a post titled “How do European Union funds end up in the hands of the Orbán family?” The two journalists found that Tiborcz’s firm, Elios Innovatív Zrt., bid and won, more often than not without any competition, 2.9 billion forints worth of government contracts, mostly financed by the European Union. In addition to serious irregularities in the bidding process, OLAF also found “evidence of conflict of interest.” As we have known since 2014, Endre Hamar, a business partner of István Tiborcz, was the owner of a company that “helped municipalities prepare the tender process.”

That article was so hard hitting and so thoroughly researched that in February 2015 Csaba Molnár, DK member of the European Parliament, turned to OLAF in connection with the shady business affairs of István Tiborcz. By March even the Hungarian police had begun investigating Elios’s business transactions. The Orbán family council must have realized that the situation was serious and that the best thing was to get rid of Elios as quickly as possible. By May 2015 Tiborcz “sold” his company to one of his father-in-law’s oligarchs. In July Csaba Molnár announced that OLAF had found the information he provided sufficient grounds for investigation. In fact, as it turned out, the irregularities were so serious that OLAF is suggesting the return of €40 million to the European Union, money that it claims was illegally obtained.

The Wall Street Journal noted that these “allegations could prove embarrassing for Mr. Orbán, an outspoken critic of the EU in recent years.” Indeed, every effort is being made in the pro-government media to minimize the significance of OLAF’s findings regarding the possible misappropriation of funds by Tiborcz’s company. Magyar Idők published an editorial shortly after the appearance of The Wall Street Journal article that tried to give the impression that there is a direct connection between the forthcoming national election and OLAF’s suggestion of an investigation by the appropriate Hungarian authorities into Elios’s business affairs.

The best that Zoltán Kovács, the communication wizard, could come up with was that “it has been possible ever since 2004 to use EU resources for the development of public lighting.” Moreover, he continued, “the objects of the OLAF investigation are tenders that were initiated during the tenure of the Bajnai government.” In brief, it was Viktor Orbán’s predecessor who was responsible for the current prime minister’s son-in-law’s allegedly fraudulent business practices by offering an opportunity to develop public lighting in Hungarian cities. Gordon Bajnai couldn’t resist and wrote the following comment on his Facebook page: “Perhaps we should have been more careful and indicated on the application forms that applicants are obliged to follow the seventh and government spokesmen the eighth of the Ten Commandments. Of course, we thought that it is enough if it is in the Bible.” In case some of you need a refresher course, the seventh commandment says “Thou shalt not steal” and the eighth, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

As for the alleged connection between the forthcoming election and the OLAF investigation, the Hungarian government seems to be exceedingly well-informed about all the alleged recent decisions and moves of OLAF. Magyar Idők claims that in the last few months OLAF rushed to complete the work on this particular case. They were in such a hurry that “they neglected to ask for the comments of the concerned party.” In brief, the announcement was timed to coincide with the start of the election campaign. OLAF is giving the opposition an opportunity to use the case against Fidesz and the Orbán government.

Ottó Gajdics, editor of Magyar Idők and a particularly distasteful character on the far-right Echo TV, took upon himself the task of writing an opinion piece on the OLAF investigation. In his interpretation, the real culprit in this affair is the opposition. “They pounced on the object of their hatred” and “in their usual sly ways, they entrusted their foreign agents” to do the dirty work. But, he continued, one ought not to be terribly worried about this whole affair. It will take months for the prosecutor’s office to investigate the case. It is “in our interest not to allow anyone to take advantage of these investigations in this base political game.” Indeed, I am sure that Mr. Gajdics is right. The prosecutor’s office, a veritable Fidesz bastion led by Péter Polt, will do its utmost to see that nothing comes of the investigation. Viktor Orbán and his son-in-law have nothing to fear.

January 15, 2018
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J Simon
Guest

The Romanian prime minister was forced to resign. He made a highly
inflammatory remark about the Székelys in Erdély. Hungary protested and a diplomatic row between the two countries followed.
It would have been only proper to read about this event in the Hungarian Spectrum. Sadly, not a word.

Member

Why don’t you get your own blog and write about it yourself? Instead of expecting others to do everything for you.

Ferenc
Guest

“Romanian prime minister was forced to resign”
Great! Shows that Romania is a democracy in which certain things are not acceptable for political players.
If Hungary would also be a real democracy, the current political leadership would have been forced to leave quite some time ago!!
By forgetting to mention this and the other lines in your comment just show that, unfortunately, you are not in favor of a real democracy…

seinean
Guest

The reasons for Romania’s PM resignation have very little to do with his stupid inflammatory remark.

Cujo
Guest

Correct. No, the Romanian PM was forced out not because of the outrageous remarks agains the Hungarian minority, even though that alone should have been a reason for immediate resignation. Yes, Romania is on par with Hungary and Poland in its assault against the rule of law and the checks and balances of an established democracy. The only reason they’re lower on the radar right now is because the ruling party does not yet dispose of absolute power in the executive (the president belongs to the liberal opposition) and it does not yet fully control the superior courts. They have a simple majority in Parliament and hopefully that’s not going to be enough to complete their assault. And yes, the civil society in Romania is indeed strong and can mobilize – for now – in massive protests against corruption and the maiming of the judiciary. And lastly, yes, one bastion that keeps the politicians on their toes is the Anticorruption Directorate under Kovesi, but that institution is currently under assault as well.

Istvan
Guest
I agree seinean. But Joe gets his news from Hungarian sources and draws the conclusions those sources want people to draw. Magyar Nemzet deserves an award for an article on the on going political instability in Romania today (https://mno.hu/kulfold/roman-sajto-benyujtja-lemondasat-a-miniszterelnok-2440408 ). The award is for really poor journalism. The article completely avoids the root of the problems inside of the ruling Social Democrats where Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose was forced out of office. The article completely avoids the fact that for the second time in less than seven months, Romania is without a prime minister. The root of the problem is similar to what exists in Hungary or for that matter in numerous other Central European countries, massive corruption. Unlike Hungary and some other nations the Romanian people have massively demonstrated against corruption especially against the political boss of the SPD Liviu Dragnea who is the master of corruption that operates very similarly to Fidesz corruption. The Magyar Nemzet article completely avoids this salient feature of the political instability in Romania. The article also avoids even in passing discussing the so called judicial reforms the master of corruption Dragnea has attempted to pass, changes which mirror those in Hungary and… Read more »
Thereality
Guest

Some correction: Romania is not Central Eurpean country, and it is not true that all Central European countries are corrupt. What about Germany Austria or Czech republic? These are also clearly Central European countries.

seinean
Guest

I do agree with your analysis. The situation is rather bleak.

The PSD won the 2016 elections with 45% of the votes. Dragnea has a suspended sentence for electoral fraud and – hence – cannot be PM. Like a good puppeteer, one year ago he picked a “straw man” to act as PM. In less than 6 month the PM started rejecting some of the Party’s commands and Dragnea changed him.

The PSD had a successful censure motion within the Parliament against his own government ! That’s unheard of in Romania’s previous history.

A new straw man was picked by Dragnea and the scenario repeated itself almost identically now – 7 month later…

The sad thing is that – if elections would happen again tomorrow – the PSD would be voted again in power with a similar result as in 2016.

wrfree
Guest

I remember Ms. Kovesi when she started her anti-corruption efforts. After the monster pm Romania had it was looking to the dawn of a new day in Romanian politics. Unfortunately it appears the ‘machine’ has gotten ‘in gear’ once again as the idealistic notions of a ‘free’ country dissipate again.

With Eastern Europe it is quite apparent it has never recovered from the psychological and spiritual damage made by great and internecine wars and despicable ideology. It’s almost as if it has been lobotomized to ignore critical human values such as trust, ethics and the adherence to a keen moral sense. We seem to be always witnessing the erosion of discerning critical minds and a sickness in spirit in that area of the world. The apparent lassitude is slowly killing them.

Guest

Your favourite media are full of hysteria and propaganda on this – ain’t that enough for you, Joe?

Michael Kaplan
Guest

Central European University press has published a book on the “mafia state” with in Hungary as I am sure Professor Balogh and some readers know. The story today gives more evidence of the above. I especially liked the references to the Ten Commandments.

dos929
Guest
Unfortunately Orban and his cronies have nothing to fear from the OLAF or any of the EU’s decision making bodies, as the EU is a toothless paper-tiger. Since this regime came to power there were not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of infringements that in a normal democracy any of them would have initiated immediate legal actions against this mafia-government. To the decent millions of EU citizens in the EU and in Hungary all hopes are lost that the current stalemate with regard to the Orban regime will change. All we can see is talk, talk, and more talk, but no action on the part of the EU. There are plenty of investigations, but results are none… In these 8 years amongst the tens of thousands of EU politicians and employees are only a handful that raised their voice against the practices and policies of the Orban regime. Although many said, but very few listened that this appeasement policy will be the death-nail in the coffin of the EU, and the nail is hammered in by the joint hands of Orban and Putin… As for Hungary, we often thought that there is no more depth to sink into in the… Read more »
Guest

Remember:
Every country has the government it deserves …
The Fidesz corruption is nothing new – so why did so many Hungarians vote for them again and again?
Maybe because it’s only corruption when I’m not involved in it?

Btw I can’t stand that constant whining anymore:
It’s always someone else’s fault!
Typical Hungarian bunko paraszt reaction – says my wife!

PS:
Sorry for those harsh words – but they had to be said. Hungarians had a chance in1989 – but they blew it …

Jean P
Guest

“Every country has the government it deserves …”

Is a bad government a punishment? For what? Ignorance? Backwardness? Gullibility? Cowardice?

Observer
Guest

It’s an old political saying, but: every people deserve the government they actually have. Almost always true in the med to long term.
Hu is a very good example – they were given a great chance by Kadar, Gorbachev and by the EU cohesion funds (=twice the Marshal Plan).
And instead of catching up with W.Europe they chose a con man and this gang of thieves. Did it all by themselves, no exogenous factors.

Marty
Guest

Right, like we deserved the communists or Horthy. History is very complex and desert has nothing to do with it.

Observer
Guest

Yes, the Hun ruling classes paved the road to Trianon, to Kun B and then Horthy/Hitler. Kàdàr, from the 60s on, was a bonus.

And if you deny ” deserve” you deny the role of the people. Note how static is the ranking in Europe and the world, save for the Far East – there good reasons for this.

Thereality
Guest

Wrong. There were no general democratic suffrage and secret ballots in Hungary during the A-H times and Horthy era. Therefore blaming the Hungarian society (as a whole) for political decisions is not historically accurate!

Observer
Guest

Thereality
it is not. See my note 6.51 below. And read some history.

Guest

Observer wrote:
the Hun ruling classes
They always were the problem in Hungary, in Austrian times as well as Horthy times – Hungary has noexperience with the concept of democracy, that’s why we still consider it part of the Balkan!

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Wolfi,
Public hanging will be introduced in the not too distant future (on Kossuth Square) . . People are hungry for a new form of entertainment. . . Bummer!
I’d be shaking in my boots if I were you . . .😂😂😂

Guest

shaking in my from joy like you?boots Come on!

Guest

We’re not talking about “the good old times” …
1989 was a new beginning – or wasn’t it?

wrfree
Guest

What a fakeout. Could have been been ‘the beginning of a beautiful friendship’. And ‘having Paris’?
No way. It’s now going into future memories of ‘Moscow on the Kek Duna’.

Observer
Guest

The first son in law was given almost a billion Ft (2.9×28% at least, as in the Simicska period) for he personally had no experience or record.
After his Elios Ltd got the first contract, experience with this type of lights became a condition of the tender thus eliminating competition.
In many communities there was neither need nor plans/budget to change public lightning, but they were instructed to purchase this particular product.

Witness Orban’s mafia state.

wiktorr
Guest

“As for the alleged connection between the forthcoming election and the OLAF investigation, the Hungarian government seems to be exceedingly well-informed about all the alleged recent decisions and moves of OLAF.”

OLAF has Hungarian employees too and they report to their bosses in Budapest. I suspect that some of the clerks or even some of the judges at the EU courts report too about the upcoming judgments. Detto at the Commission. I ‘m sure Hungarian intelligence controls many EU employees which is probably true for other member states as well as Russia. We know that Orban only really trust info which comes from people who work for intelligence.

Member

I agree but in regards to Hungarian intelligence I don’t think you mean “control” (“irányít”) here but rather “keep under surveillance” (“megfigyelés alatt tart”).

wiktorr
Guest

I actually think they do control (“iranyit”) a few Hungarian ones. Most member states probably use their own citizens working at the EU to provide insider info on upcoming developments.

Member

Ok thanks for clarifying.

Observer
Guest
Blatant lying by the regime’s multiple spokesmen and sycophant media has become a daily occurrence. More distasteful characters are coming to the fore pushing the boundaries of the fascist regime. Note the mentality of the regime, as per Gajdics, who may not even realize how does he sound to normal citizens: – nowadays every revelation of our crimes is a plot to hurt us at the elections, – those who report our crimes are sly haters – if the competent authority is abroad, they ar traitors too, – but our friend the chief prosecutor will take care of this. – Sz.Nèmeth (chair) said in essence that opposing views are banned from the debate chamber – he didn’t ban B. Szèl (member) from the meetings of his committee, said he, she just can’t attend, because she supports the Soros plan and had worked in the past for American money. (he has no right to prevent a member participating). – the regime is trying to portray the national strike (!!) of local council employees as anti government action (OMG!) even if the gov is holding the strings of the purse. – Gy.Budai, another “luminary”of the regime spoke yesterday to the press along… Read more »
Melanie Zuben
Guest

After reading the comments, frankly . . .I am suprised by your logic. Do you honestly believe that FIDESZ (the party is packed with smart lawyers) will sit back and kindly allowing you to destroy them?
They must have something up in their sleeves also, (they are just waiting for the right moment to hit back) otherwise they wouldn’t be so cool and confident. From a distance, those “boys” look totally fearless to me! (Just an observation).

Observer
Guest

As I noted earlier: the half gypsy boy is fearless and aggressive when he knows there is no danger, e.g. lhis last debate he lost to Gyurcsàny in 2006 abd never faced another, never ventures out of the circles of faithful, never answers questions, never walks among people, etc. We know he was slapped around as an obnoxious boy, but many grow out of it.

Observer
Guest

Guys,
As I have noted before:
This is not racism, but, at worse stereotyping. The human brain works with stereotypes- e.g. how many words one needs to describe a Vietnamese man without using “Vietnamese”. Most stereotypes are valid, none is 100% (e.g. gypsy one – see poverty, education, work ethics, crime rates stats ), some have become obsolete, e.g. no one would call the Danes “warriors” nowadays, but even so are used for derogation.
Since PC often prevents evidence supported reasoning, it’s just another form of intolerance or mob rule, even if born from good intentions.
Waking too far down that path is counterproductive and dangerous – the examples below show how the PC extremes, (e.g. zero tolerance to a communication category??!) are exploited to raise indignation and antagonism, lead to, say Trumpism (another stereotype), and damage worthy causes like feminism (stereotype) and alienates large groups of people stereotyped as deplorables.
Watch these:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwvhGfbeo1Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KOiu3HBTBo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CYC1L1ckt0

Reality Check
Guest

No need to insult Roma when dissing OV.

Ivan
Guest

Yes. Please can we have zero tolerance of racism on HS!

petofi
Guest

@ Reality Check

Stop with the knee-jerk political correctness: OV is Roma; and he thinks and acts like the worst of them…

Ivan
Guest

Petofi, calling out racism is not political correctness, but simple human decency. Racism is itself a knee-jerk response. I’m saddened by your repeated anti-Roma slurs and disappointed that they’re tolerated here.

Member

FIDESZ is a party of fascist thugs governing a nation (by and large) of apathetic and craven cowards- it is hardly a surprise they are looking so “cool” (and if you seen these obese, middle-aged bumpkin “boys” on a Friday night out with their 16 year old “girlfriends” in Otkert that would be the last word you would use) and confident.

Yes, they look really “fearless” for sure when they are beating up lone female protesters but given any real physical opposition and they will run for the hills. Just a pity that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

Ferenc
Guest

About ‘your’ ‘smart’ ‘fearless looking’ ‘boys’: history will reveal the truth, the sooner the better, for all!

as the sun comes up, as the moon goes down,
these heavy notions creep around
it makes me think, long ago,
I was brought into this life a little lamb,
a little lamb, courageous, stumbling
fearless was my middle name.
but somewhere there, I lost my way
everyone walks the same, expecting me to step
the narrow path they’ve laid, they claim to
walk unafraid, I’ll be clumsy instead

–Walk Unafraid – REM (1998)

there’s a great cover by a Swedish (hey, hey, Sweden, what’s happening there, what, what, what?? nothing cool down just great music) duo First Aid Kit
nr.17 at page http://www.covermesongs.com/2014/12/the-best-cover-songs-of-2014.html/4
also several versions on youtube (incl.brilliant acoustic version in the woods with former REM guitarist)

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Ferenc ,
Re: “history will reveal the truth” – you mean after the great Hungarian Civil War in the making? A war between those hungarians, who are the supporters of the Soros style “Open Society” ; open borders etc. and those conservative traditionalists , who believe in Hungarian sovereignty and basic human values?
Is this what you mean about “revelation”? It is frightening what’s going on there at the moment. . . the “us” and “them”; the liberals vs the conservatives; the battle of the sexes, with sexual preferences . . . and the war is already started . . . Just more suffering for the ignorant/innocent who are unable make decisions for the best interest of the Hungarian nation. I hope God will give power to those communicators who will be able to deliver his message to the people in order to save the lives of present and future generations.
God bless the Hungarians .

petofi
Guest

Melanie-baby,

Your gibberish suggests that you’ve run out of hot water
in your hot-tub. Better get that repaired.

So, “those conservative traditionalists, who believe in …basic human values”…oh, yeah, you mean all those lovely Hunkies
who sent off an extra 270,000 jews to Auscwhitz just so the innocent citizens could loot jewish homes and businesses, right?

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Wolfi and Petofi,
Your comments speak volumes about you two. I have nothing more to add.

Guest

Dose this mean that you won’t comment any longer here?
Thank (not) god!

Guest

Hungarian sovereignty and basic human values
Human values – only for Hungarians, not for refugees e g?
latefor, you show again “Wes Geistes Kind” you are!
And you can put your “hungarian god” where the sun don’t shine!
You’re worse than most “Christians” I’ve met in my life – and I’ve met quite a few of what I call “Clerical Fascists”, actually too many of them, so I try to avoid them…

Ferenc
Guest

If you call it a war, I sincerely hope you really know who started the aggression…
PS1: also hope you enjoyed mentioned Swedish duo
PS2: if she/he can, let God bless all live on our globe

Guest

You’re kind of lucky that you’re so far away – why don’t you come over and try to live in Hungary a few months?
I’m sure you’d enjoy the behaviour of those Fidesz macho men!

Ferenc
Guest

OT – ‘other organized corruption’
In 7 years Meszaros’ (the gasfitter) companies won public tenders worth total 476 billion forint, split-up as follows:
*from Hungarian state total 80 billion forint (17%)
*from EU funds total 396 billion forint (83%)comment image
source: https://atlatszo.hu/2018/01/15/tulnyomoreszt-unios-forrasokbol-gazdagodtak-meszaros-lorinc-csaladi-cegei-az-elmult-het-evben/

Ferenc
Guest

more about ‘other organized corruption’ in 2017
“EU funds enriched the government’s favorite construction companies in 2017”
https://english.atlatszo.hu/2018/01/07/european-union-funds-enriched-the-governments-favorite-construction-companies-in-2017/

Ferenc
Guest

interesting letter from atlatszocomment image

wrfree
Guest

Re: Mr. Kovacs ref to things on ‘public lighting

For all purposes OLAF at the minimum is on late night pest control. Flipping the light switch to on has the cockroaches bolting out of their crevices and now running for cover. ‘Public lighting’ at its best to shine a light alright.

Ron
Guest

The best that Zoltán Kovács, the communication wizard, could come up with was that “it has been possible ever since 2004 to use EU resources for the development of public lighting.” Moreover, he continued, “the objects of the OLAF investigation are tenders that were initiated during the tenure of the Bajnai government.”

Zoltán Kovács is right that since 2004 EU resources for development of Public Lighting started under the Bajnai government, but wrong about the rest.

As you may recall as soon as VO came into power, all PPP projects and most of the EU projects were cancelled. Everything came under Janos Lazar, before that it was the responsibility of the various ministries and City Councils (including the ones under control of Fidesz). Janos had some problems due to the fact that the rules were not met, even for a while the funds were suspended. But after that it was business as usual.

As far as I know all Olaf cases went the Peter Polt, and basically nothing happened. Just under the search option of HS fill out OLAF, and notice how many there are, the train, gypsy case and Farkas, and the list goes on and on.

Member

Even further off topic but I wonder if Zoltan Goebbels has returned the PHD he received from the CEU yet?

According to his CV, apparently not:
http://www.kormany.hu/en/government-spokesperson/government-spokesperson
Which is somewhat hypocritical.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – repeat of comment – ref.Freedom House report
Made a new infogram based on the “Freedom in the World” reports over the years 2007 till 2018:
https://infogram.com/a9e81653-ce16-4c6c-9478-910aede3a896
As expected Hungary shows “impressive” changes
Note: biggest decline was 4 years ago, so in election time…, like now…, how low will ‘they’ go???

Ferenc
Guest

OT – more corruption?
Kosa L.made a folksong: “My mother isn’t a Strawman, not from anybody”
https://coub.com/view/123q4e

Marty
Guest

Please, read this (a very good long-form reporting from Miskolc). These are the “average people” (remember than 40% lived below the poverty rate when its calculation was discontinued by the Statistical Office). As a politician you need to talk to them and speak their language. You need to show empathy and recognition. Am I correct in criticizing the Hungarian left that they totally forgot about these people? Do you think you can get close to them by just repeating liberal issues like rule of law, democracy, racism etc.?

A communication advisor said that if you go to France and want to talk to French people the best way to get understood is to speak in French. Likewise, if you want to get understood in BAZ county you need to speak their language. They can’t agree with you unless they understand you.

https://24.hu/kozelet/2018/01/17/erzik-hogy-szarabb-de-hogy-mitol-azt-nem-tudjak/

Guest

Isn’t the fight against corruption and the prevailing class system in Hungary also a liberal/leftist issue?
Shouldn’t the poor people also be interested in that?
Don’t they know who has/gets the money that they’re working for?
This reminds me of one of my wife’s favourites sayings:
In Hungary only the poor and the stupid pay taxes!

Ferenc
Guest

What’s the connection between above comment and what I posted???
PS: Madzag isn’t a typical BAZ inhabitant (have traveled through and stayed in the county many times…) and Kosa isn’t even from BAZ…

Ferenc
Guest

Acc.an uncredited article in ‘Magyar (Tüzifák) Idők’ the main suspect behind the Elios EU fraud (with LED lighting) is (drum-roll): Simicska!!
Acc.the paper one of S.’s companies was for 1,5 year main stakeholder of Elios (2012-2013).
Note in that period S.was the main Strawman in OV’s (Maffia) Empire (btw not mentioned/’forgotten’ in the paper…)
source: https://444.hu/2018/01/20/a-magyar-idok-simicskazassal-vedene-tiborczot-az-olaf-tol