Govt Launches Probe Into Graft Allegation Linked To EU Tenders

  • 19 Aug 2016 9:00 AM
Govt Launches Probe Into Graft Allegation Linked To EU Tenders
The government has started an internal investigation to uncover whether it was possible to influence decision-makers in connection with European Union tenders, the government office chief said. János Lázár told a news conference that ruling Fidesz lawmaker Roland Mengyi’s immunity would be suspended.

Mengyi himself initiated this procedure, he noted. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has ordered an investigation into the case because public monies are at the centre of alleged criminal activity. Lázár said that he was “rather unhappy” about the issue, adding that this was the first case in six years that the suspension of immunity has been initiated by the public prosecutor’s office.

At the same time, he said everybody deserved benefit of the doubt. Hungary’s public prosecutor Péter Polt asked parliament to lift Mengyi’s immunity on suspicion of corruption involving public funds. Political weekly 168 óra reported earlier this month that in 2015 Mengyi solicited bribes from social cooperatives in exchange for preferential treatment in their bids for European Union funding.

The case involves five suspects. In response to a question about allegations that the authorities were “instructed from above” not to “go for” Mengyi, Lázár said there is zero tolerance in corruption cases and the authorities had acted fully in accordance with the law.

He insisted that it was out of the question that anybody would have instructed them otherwise. Mengyi said that he would fully cooperate with authorities and ask parliament to suspend his immunity so that he can clear his name as soon as possible.

The Socialist Party vowed to amend a criminal complaint it had filed against Mengyi to include complicity to fraud. The Socialists said they demanded that the prosecution’s investigation “cover all activities of the entire Fidesz criminal gang” and that the office release all of its classified documents about the case.

The opposition Együtt party said this is the first case in which one of the “Fidesz mafia” has been brought before a court.

The opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party welcomed prosecution pressure to lift Mengyi’s immunity. It said this was the first correct move the prosecutor had made in years and a sign that the rule of law is still alive in Hungary.

The radical nationalist Jobbik party said Fidesz was using Mengyi’s case to divert attention from the dealings of cabinet chief Antal Rogán and others close to the prime minister “involved in very serious mafia dealings”.

Green opposition LMP said there were several lawmakers whose immunity should be suspended and whose business dealings investigated.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

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