Former Budapest deputy mayor Miklós Hagyó was found guilty of abuse of office and financial malfeasance by a first-level court on Tuesday. The court cleared Hagyó of the more serious charge of corruption, He was given a suspended sentence. Prosecutors are expected to appeal the decision.
Hungary’s Central Investigative Chief Prosecutor’s Office accused Hagyó of running a criminal syndicate while serving as deputy mayor (2006-2010). The court agreed that he abused his office by conspiring with others to bilk the Budapest Transportation Company (BKV) of over one billion forints between November 2006 and August 2008, and that he was the ringleader. It sentenced him to four years imprisonment which it immediately commuted to four years probation.
The court also meted out suspended sentences to five of Hagyó’s accomplices, including former BKV CEO Attila Antal and his acting successor, Zsolt Balogh. Three of the accused were fined between HUF 105,000 (USD 362) and HUF 500,000 (HUF 1,724).
The court ordered that personal assets it had seized be used to compensate BKV for damages.
Charges against six of the accused, including Ernő Mesterházy, special advisor to former Budapest mayor Gábor Demszky, were dismissed
Corruption? What corruption?
The court cleared Hagyó of the more serious charge of corruption, despite former acting BKV CEO Balogh previously telling prosecutors that he had personally delivered him two Nokia boxes each containing HUF 15 million (USD 52,000) of embezzled funds.
Balogh’s testimony made headlines at the time, as did his decision the following year to retract it on the grounds that he had given testimony under duress. The court ruled his testimony admissable.
Hagyó, who was also a member of parliament while deputy mayor, was taken into custody in April 2010 within hours of his parliamentary mandate (and immunity from prosecution) expiring. He spent one year in preventive detention.