The Slovak Spectator wrote about four Hungarian firms connected to István Tiborcz, son-in-law of PM Orbán, winning hundreds of thousands of EUR on suspicious lighting tenders of local municipalities. Furthermore, Tiborcz’s former ‘flagship’ in Hungary, Elios, is investigated by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office.
OLAF investigated, Hungarian authorities sit out
According to a leaked report from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the recipe for winning many public tenders for modernisation of public lighting in Hungary was simple. In fact, the money was provided by the EU, and the Hungarian municipalities prescribed strict criteria which were only met by Tiborcz’s firm, Elios. Thus, it happened many times that his enterprise was the only applying company.
However, investigative journalists from direkt36.hu found that Elios’ lights were overpriced. Furthermore, its net profit was 14 pc of the total amount of contracts while its competitors earned only 5 pc. Moreover, some Hungarian municipalities complained later that the new Elios lighting was poor and turned out worse than the previous ones. Based on these data, OLAF started an investigation in 2014, and it found that at least in 17 cases,
“Elios had directly organized fraud for procurement.”
Thus, OLAF recommended the Hungarian authorities’ criminal proceedings, which are still ongoing – according to The Slovak Spectator. However, because of the embarrassing scandal, Tiborcz sold his share in Elios in 2015 while its daughter companies started to search for new fields for business, for example, in Serbia, and in Slovakia.
Some municipalities are already fined in Slovakia
When Minister for Economy, Pavol Pavlis of Smer called for the modernisation of public lighting for municipalities, Elios’ daughter companies toed the line. The Slovak Spectator mentions four of these companies: Elios Slovakia, Infralux, GREP Slovakia and, E-E-E LED Lighting.
In fact, Infralux won public lighting tenders in 2015 September in seven villages near Besztercebánya (Banská Bystrica) for 850 thousand EUR even though it was
founded only one month before the call for tenders.
Grep Slovakia won two tenders, the first for 240 thousand EUR while the second for 58,600 EUR.
Like in Hungary, these seven plus two municipalities also requested strict demands and, also, they excluded two firms doing business in lighting for many years in Slovakia. Therefore, the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) fined them specifically because of
unreasonable requirements restricting competition.
The Slovak Spectator approached the mayors of the municipalities, but they denied any allegations of fraud. ‘What is not suspicious these days? I do not care about such things, I just need lighting’ – said Marian Mazúch, the Mayor of Horhát (Horchot). Imre Farkas, the Mayor of Jóka (Jelka), said that he was not aware of the Grep’s background, but he is
satisfied with their job.
In fact, the four companies connected to Elios are still active and, except for Infralux, they are increasing sales and profits – stated The Slovak Spectator. That website publishes the articles of SME, one of the most widely read mainstream broadsheets in Slovakia.
Featured image: PM Orbán with István Tiborcz.
Source: The Slovak Spectator