Budapest (MTI) – A Roma leader has accused the National Roma Self-Government (ORO) of committing fraud in the hundreds of millions since 2011.
Istvan Makai, chairman of the Roma Civic Bloc, told MTI on Thursday that his “alternative investigative committee” had uncovered the abuses and it had documentary evidence to underpin its findings.
He said programmes overseen by the ORO were in a state of political and economic chaos, adding that his organisation had made several complaints to the police about the ORO’s handling of its finances. Over the past few days, it also made complaints about Florian Farkas, a government commissioner for Roma affairs who stepped down as chairman of ORO last year, concerning his use of 300 million forints.
One example he cited was 400,000-500,000 forints of travel expenses for public workers each earning 47,000 forints (EUR 158) a month who did not possess a driving licence or a car and lived only 500 metres away from the site of their labour.
The ORO issued a statement on Thursday following Makai’s allegations, vowing to make a complaint to police on the grounds of “slander, libel and harming good repute”. The statement said the accusations were “groundless and ignoble”.
In early April, the ministry for human resources said an audit of the Roma “Bridge” employment scheme has revealed irregularities but there is nothing to stop it from continuing. The audit of the ORO scheme covered 150 items, including 12 public procurements. Irregularities were suspected in two cases, one involving furniture purchases and another involving the use of vehicles, it said. The minister has launched proceedings in both cases but the transfer of payments can go ahead.
The minister told the project’s organisers to improve efficiency and transparency and proposed setting up a supervisory body and a system for regional coordination.
The Tax Office investigation body has informed the ministry there is no need to start an investigation into budget fraud.
In February, the opposition LMP and Democratic Coalition (DK) parties turned to the European Union’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) over a case of suspected corruption involving an EU tender won by the National Roma Self-government (ORO). Peter Niedermuller, DK’s deputy leader, noted that press reports suggested “serious corruption” in connection with the organisation run by Farkas, who is a Fidesz MP.
In a statement at the end of January, the ORO rejected accusations of graft concerning the 300 million forint jobs scheme for the Roma.