Another day, another scandal involving EU development funds

April 8, 2018

Another day, another scandal involving EU development funds

Index.hu reports that a consulting company owned by the boyfriend of a deputy state secretary at the Ministry for Human Resources (Emmi) is part of a three-party consortium recently awarded a HUF 480 million (USD 1.9 million) contract to supply the ministry with “expert advice and services,” to be paid out of European development funds made available within the framework of the 2014-2020 EFOP (Emberi Erőforrás Fejleztési Operativ Program, or Human Resource Development Operational Program).

According to index.hu, the consortium consisted of “two companies of exceptionally bad reputation long known to us.”

The daily online writes:

“The first of the public procurement superstars is Ész-ker, which apart from various extravagant solutions, played an important role in the billions of forints worth of Elios projects suspected of corruption. The company is connected to the prime minister’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, in many ways.

“The other is one of the state’s favorites which has likewise been mixed up in suspected corruption, the notorious Provital, the previously uncrowned king of the Fidesz public procurement market. By the way, they are directly connected to Lőrinc Mészáros’s super team.

“It appears that recently OLAF (European anti-corruption office) investigated them: for sure it does not like the fact that its previous owner, current state secretary Röbert Homolya, using the oldest trick in the world, was in a position to influence both the decision makers and the inspectors of the public procurement involving a few billion forints.”

The third member of the winning consortium was Csendes Consulting. Established in 2015, the 12-person company is owned by Richárd Csendes who, according to index, previously worked as “an advisor to small cities on smaller public procurements, academies and the state asset manager.”

Index is surprised by the fact that Csendes Consulting was included in the consortium charging an hourly price of HUF 16,000 (USD 64).

“To outside observers, Csendes possesses but one special quality, and that is that he is the boyfriend of the new deputy undersecretary Boglárka Illés at Emmi. Illés Boglárka entered public administration from Fidelitas, the Fidesz youth organization, after completing her law degree in 2014 at Elte. From there she went to the Office of the Prime Minister, then to the State Asset Management Company as a department head. At the end of 2016 she became a deputy undersecretary at Emmi.”

Index exposed a similar conflict of interest several months ago involving Andrea Szele-Király, a deputy undersecretary at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, whose husband reportedly won a series of contracts from the national park falling under the ministry. She subsequently resigned her position.