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How long will the EU finance Viktor Orban's illiberal state?

Author : Hungarian Spectrum

Source : Hungarian Spectrum

Hungary might have to pay as much as 500-750 billion forints in fines because of its irregular use of EU subsidies and government corruption
14:21, 18 November 2019

Hurriyet Daily News

On November 12 Benedek Jávor, a former MEP, shared the information that, on the basis of the final approval or discharge of the European Union budget, Hungary might have to pay as much as 500-750 billion forints in fines because of its irregular use of EU subsidies and government corruption. To understand just how large this figure is, every Hungarian, including newborn babies, would have to contribute at least 50,000 forints toward this fine–all because the Orbán regime is engulfed in corruption and the prime minister and his family are actively involved in pilfering large sums of money for their personal use.

The information Jávor provided is not entirely new. A year ago, after the European Commission took a look at the Hungarian authority responsible for the supervision of public procurement (KFF), the investigators concluded that oversight of EU funds barely existed in Hungary. The assessment that followed the investigation found its way to G7, a Hungarian financial and economic site of some importance. There, it was written in black and white that a fine of 500 billion is likely, about 200 billion more than reported a year earlier. In the last seven years, Hungary received 29.6 billion euros, and G7 figured that the fine might be 5% of this total. Of course, Hungary could insist on an examination of every project financed by EU funds, which would be very expensive and cumbersome.

Moreover, because the investigators found KFF to be a largely inadequate organization, the European Commission can suspend further payments. And indeed, a few months later Népszava learned that three Hungarian programs were actually suspended until EU could come to some understanding with the Hungarian government. At the end of May of this year, 24.hu reported that a Hungarian delegation arrived in Brussels to bargain down the amount of the fine; they apparently were ready to pay 400 billion forints.

But the Hungarian delegation was far too optimistic. On the basis of the figures of the final budget discharge, Jávor concluded that the fine on the whole sum might be as high as 750 billion forints. Jávor also recalled the infamous Tiborcz case which OLAF, the Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, investigated. The corruption in that particular case was so blatant that Hungary forwent EU funding altogether. Naturally, the fine was not paid by Viktor Orbán’s corrupt son-in-law, who established himself financially for a lifetime. It was the Hungarian taxpayers who had to pick up the tab: 43.7 million euros.

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All major cases of corruption involving the Hungarian government remain to this day unexamined by the Hungarian Prosecutor’s Office under the leadership of a loyal ally of the prime minister, whose tenure was just extended for another nine years. All told, Polt, unless he dies in office or gets impeached after the fall of Viktor Orbán, will serve 24 years as chief prosecutor.

After the detailed analysis by Benedek Jávor of the possible outcome of the investigations, the government could no longer remain silent. The Ministry of Innovation and Technology finally indirectly admitted that Jávor’s information was correct. Instead of trying to deny the particulars, the ministry spokesman simply ignored any mention of the fine and instead emphasized that there will be no suspension of funds. In plain English, money will still be going to Hungary. It’s just that the corrupt Orbán regime will have to return in 500-750 billion forints to the European Union. Magyar Nemzet added that the recriminations among the ranks of the opposition are “nothing more than the creation of political hysteria.” According to DemokrataJávor’s report is simply fake news.

To conclude, I will add a not entirely unrelated story. Recently we learned that István Tiborcz had decided to sue Gergely Karácsony because the new mayor of Budapest during the campaign often talked about an extra tax on incomes over 500 million forints a year. He called it the “Tiborcz tax.” Initially, Tiborcz didn’t seem to mind the label, but then the Kúria (Supreme Court) declared that he is not considered to be a “public figure,” and therefore he sued Karácsony for damaging his good reputation. If he wins, Karácsony is supposed to pay Tiborcz a million forints, about 3,000 euros. It is a relatively small amount, but allowing Tiborcz, one of the most corrupt oligarchs, who happens to be the son-in-law of the prime minister, to triumph should be avoided by all means. As Karácsony put it, Tiborcz may resent the label, but “the people of Budapest have the right not only to resent it but put an end to the world in which Fidesz boys are shoving their wealth in their faces.”

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I’m sure that many people who read that András Schiffer, the founder of LMP and an outstanding lawyer, will be Karácsony’s attorney in the coming suit were as surprised as I was. Karácsony admitted that by now he and Schiffer are very far from each other in political terms, but he finds it “a great honor that as a lawyer dedicated to the freedom of opinion, he decided to take my case. I should add that we have not given up on the Tiborcz tax; work on the proposal is underway.”

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