Budapest, February 3 (MTI) – Findings of an investigation by the European Union anti-fraud office (OLAF) “clearly shows” that the previous, Leftist governments and Budapest’s earlier management are to blame for the corruption scandal around the construction of the city’s fourth metro line, state secretary Nándor Csepreghy said on Friday, after the government published the OLAF report on its website.
Csepreghy noted that publication of the English-language document had been delayed by data protection considerations.
The state secretary called the cases of alleged corruption identified in the report the “largest corruption scandal of the past 13 years” due to which the country will probably have to repay a total 59 billion forints (EUR 191m) to the European Union, which the community had contributed to the project.
The M4 project, completed in 2014, cost a total 452 billion forints, of which 272 billion is suspected to have been used illegally, while another 166 billion forints “were stolen”, he said.
Csepreghy insisted that “all but one” of the suspicious contracts involved in the project had been signed before 2010, and concluded that “the most corrupt project of all times” is linked to Leftist governments.
The government is seeking ways to reclaim the amount to cover the possible European fine from “affected politicians and companies,” Csepreghy said.
The opposition Socialists welcomed publication of the report and voiced hope that “the document is authentic”. In a statement, the party called for an “unbiased and impartial” investigation. “Those proven guilty should go to jail and repay the money,” the Socialist statement said.
Jobbik said that perpetrators of the alleged graft should be identified. Municipal Jobbik representative Marcell Gergely Tokody said it should be ascertained who signed the contracts with the companies in question, and called it “outrageous” that nobody has been indicted yet.
Green opposition LMP urged immediate public investigations into the case.
“I can honestly say that I want to see heads roll into the dust,” Budapest councillor Antal Csárdi said, calling the case “Europe’s biggest corruption scandal”. He said political players presented in a negative light in the report should draw the necessary conclusions from the scandal and accept political responsibility. Hungary cannot continue to be a country where nothing has consequences, he said. Csárdi said LMP would review the report and file the criminal complaints it deems necessary if the municipal council leadership failed to do so.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) commented on the report saying that “those who steal belong in prison, regardless of their political party.” DK spokesman Zsolt Gréczy said in a statement that the data the party had reviewed thus far indicated that both the pre-2010 leadership and the one in charge since 2010 were implicated in the scandal. The report also names former Socialist Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy as a person concerned in the case, he noted. Gréczy said the current government could also be held accountable for its alleged role in the case.
Medgyessy, who was prime minister between 2002-2004, confirmed on Friday to news portal index.hu that OLAF had contacted him in connection with the metro 4 case.
He told the portal that after having been contacted by OLAF he had responded as stating that he had never been in either direct or indirect contact with Alstom at all.
He called it “incomprehensible and beyond rational thinking” to suggest that he could have had any influence on the Budapest city assembly on the conclusion of a contract with Alstom, arguing that it had been known that he had maintained “rather bad relations” with his successor, Ferenc Gyurcsány and politicians of the allied ruling Free Democrats at the time.
“It is utter nonsense [to suggest] that I could have had any role to play in concluding the contract with Alstom considering that I was not serving as prime minister any more in 2005 when the first tenders for the metro 4 projects were announced, nor in 2006 when the first bids were invited,” he told the portal.
Medgyessy said he had not been either owner or associate of AssistConsult Kft when the company concluded a contract with Alstom.
He said he had bought the company back in 2006 after his parliamentary mandate expired, but had no authority to cancel the existing contract.