The European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, has opened an investigation into public contracts involving EU development funds awarded to Elios Innovatív Zrt., according to Hungarian news website Index.hu. OLAF has neither confirmed nor denied that it is investigating the company formerly owned by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz.
Index reports that aside from OLAF’s investigation, there is also a police investigation into the public procurement tenders awarded to Elios Innovatív Zrt. while the company was still owned by Tiborcz.
The Hungarian news portal reported in March that the National Investigation Office’s corruption and economic crime division opened an investigation into Elios Innovatív Zrt. in connection to four specific public procurements awarded to the company. The investigation received substantial news coverage at the time because the company was still owned by Orbán’s son-in-law.
Index writes that the National Investigation Office has interviewed numerous witnesses since March in connection with a public procurement awarded to the company in the city of Szekszárd. Investigators are trying to determine whether the company made a deal with the municipality before the city formally announced that it would change its public lighting system to LED lights.
A Szekszárd opposition politician, LMP’s (Politics Can Be Different) Ákos Hadházy, caught on to the shady transaction as early as August 2012. He predicted on Facebook that Elios Innovatív Zrt. would be awarded the public procurement tender, and he criticised the project on the grounds that it would take 20 to 30 years for the municipality to break even on it.
István Tiborcz owned Elios Innovatív Zrt. through Green Investment & Solutions Kft., a company he sold at the end of May. Many believe Tiborcz’s decision to sell may have been prompted by criticism within ruling party Fidesz regarding the business successes of the prime minister’s son-in-law. The company was purchased by West Hungária Bau, a company owned by the 79th-richest Hungarian, Attila Paár, whose company undertook the expensive reconstruction of a formerly neglected part of Budapest’s historic Castle District between the castle itself and the Danube.
Investigative journalism site Direkt36 has extensively covered Tiborcz’s successful business career. More can be read here.
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