Hungary, along with Poland was the second-most investigated country by the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF in 2017 after Romania, with the office had looked into 10 cases related to the use of EU funds in the former two member states, according to its annual report released on Wednesday. OLAF conducted 11 probes in Romania.
In the cases of Hungary and Poland, OLAF issued recommendations to the local authorities in seven cases each. It issued recommendations in eight cases to Romanian authorities.
The annual report specifically touched on the investigation into public lighting projects in Hungary, in connection with which OLAF recommended the repayment of 43.7 million euros. OLAF said it had looked into a total of 35 bids in connection with the projects and had found “numerous serious irregularities”.
The office recommended the repayment of 28.3 million euros over the suspected abuse of EU research money by a Hungarian-Serbian-Latvian network. The report said two research centres had been set up with the sole purpose of applying for EU funds and that they had artificially increased their project costs.
Hungary was also implicated in a case concerning the attempted import into the EU of 122 tons of illegal or counterfeit pesticides that also involved 15 other member states.
The report did not specify how much money Hungary has been recommended to repay in total.
Of the cases concerning Hungary in which OLAF issued recommendations between 2010 and 2017, the Hungarian authorities closed 17 but made no decisions in 20 others. Charges have been raised in 8 of the 17 cases that were closed by the Hungarian authorities.
Last year OLAF registered 27 reports of suspected fraud cases from Hungary.