Opposition parties are demanding that prosecutors investigate allegations Fidesz MP Roland Mengyi solicited bribes totaling HUF 10 million in exchange for facilitating EU funding of a project whose application was ultimately rejected.
Tamás Köpeczi-Bócz, undersecretary responsible for development policies, resigned shortly after an article based on eye-witness testimony and official wire-taps appeared in print weekly 168 óra accusing Mengyi and other high-ranking government officials of abusing their power for personal gain.
(Beacon readers will recall that Roland Mengyi was the Fidesz MP who co-sponsored the bill to classify all National Bank business activities that was subsequently rejected by the Constitutional Court after the bill was ramrodded through Parliament in under 24 hours-ed.)
An undersecretary from the Office of the Prime Minister, Nándor Csepreghy, who formerly served as deputy undersecretary for development policies at the Office of the Prime Minister, appeared on HírTV on Monday to announce that the Office of the Prime Minister was launching an internal investigation into the matter. He said the ministry would determine “in what manner the affected companies applied for EU devleopment funds during the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 budgetary cycles.”
(Beacon readers will recall that while deputy undersecretary for development policies, Csepreghy, along with his boss, János Lázár, falsely accused Ökotárs and other non-profits of abusing European Economic Area development funds in summer 2014. He appears to have been rewarded for his duplicity by being promoted to the position of undersecretary and deputy minister in October 2015).
In response to whether it was appropriate for members of the government to discuss individual applications among themselves, Csepreghy, who has also been implicated in the scandal, answered that it was the responsibility of members of parliament to “take development funds to his or her own voting district”, and that if it is necessary to meet with those who specialize in writing tenders “because under the previous system they played an indispensable role”, then this is fine providing these discussions contained no personal interest. The undersecretary said such discussions should pertain to issues of public interest.
Opposition political party Together (Együtt) believes prosecutors should immediately initiate the lifting of Mengyi’s immunity from prosecution, and further called for them to investigate the roles of Csepreghy and András Tállai, the president of the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV). Együtt party president Viktor Szigetvári said that “in vain are the prosecutorial services accustomed to smoothing over Fidesz corruption matters, the current case is so obviously a crime and Fidesz so obviously involved, that the prosecutors cannot delay or trivialize the investigation.”
Originally the instigators were being investigated on suspicion of tax fraud by NAV, which, in turn, notified Zoltán Balog, the Minister for Human Resources (Emmi). In response, the final call for tenders was modified in such a way as to disqualify the conspirators’ application. The application was rejected, as was its appeal.
The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) is demanding Balog disclose details about the case, as well as the investigation launched into the matter. The party wishes to know “what relationship existed between the ministry and the Public Sector Consulting Kft. (one of the parties implicated in the affair-ed.), whether the minister had examined the allocation of the many billions of EU funds distributed under the Social Renewal Operative Program (TÁMOP), and whether it is true that the (HUF 10 million allegedly paid to Mengyi) was a bribe for individuals tied to the ministry.” MSZP parliamentary delegation deputy head László Varga wants to know whether the resignation of Tamás Köpeczi-Bócz was related to this matter.
Varga believes it is in the public interest of the whole country to determine who conspired to steal resources allocated for the neediest. The party plans to pose the question to Minister Balog when parliament resumes in September, as well as to the head prosecutor, Péter Polt.
Varga told MTI that under Fidesz “a system of institutionalized corruption” has been realized in Hungary.