The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) would oblige Hungary to refund almost 4% of EU supports realized between 2014 and 2018. Last year, the agency carried out the highest number of investigations in Hungary; however – despite warnings – 20 proceedings have still not been started by the Hungarian authorities.
According to OLAF’s report – in 2018, the European Anti-Fraud Office carried out the highest number of investigations in Hungary. The body – which is responsible for detecting budget frauds – closed:
- 9 investigations in Hungary;
- 8-8 inspections in Greece and Poland;
- and 4 examinations in Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Italy.
The organization – having the responsibility of protecting EU’s financial interests – identified irregularities at four-fifths of the Hungarian investigations and made recommendations to national authorities.
In comparison to other countries – in Greece, this proportion was three-quarters; in Poland, it was slightly more than one-third; while in case of other countries half of the cases revealed frauds related to EU funds.
According to the Hungarian news portal Index, the report also mentions an extreme Hungarian case, in which two partner companies recieved a financial support of EUR 12 million for the realization of two different projects. The same subcontractor was entrusted with their execution, who delegated the work to other four subcontractors. The purpose of creating the complicated network was to regain EUR 4.9 million which was planned to be implemented by the involvement of a company registered in another EU State. OLAF requested Hungarian authorities to initiate proceedings and recommended the European Commission to oblige Hungary to refund the damage of EUR 3.6 million.
The siginificance of Hungarian abuses are also reflected in the fact that OLAF requires that Hungary should repay 3.84% of development supports realized between 2014 and 2018.
However, this does not mean that Member States will eventually return the funds – everything depends on the co-operation between the European Commission and authorities during the subsequent procedure.
The document also reveals that between 1st January 2012 and 31st December 2018, the Hungarian prosecutor’s office started 20 investigations based on OLAF’s reccommendations, out of which 9 cases resulted in accusation, while the others were closed. As far as the prosecution is concerned, this represents a ratio of 45%, compared to the 36% European average.
Director of The European Anti-Fraud Office, Ernesto Bianchi “does not see a systemic problem in the statistics related to Hungary”. He rejects to draw any conclusion from the numbers. As he said, many years of experience taught him not to be mislead by statistical results. “Communication and cooperation between the EU and national authorities is much more important.”