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Suspecting fraud, EU calls on Hungary to halt HUF 420 billion public procurement

The European Commission has called on Hungary to halt a public procurement procedure to upgrade the sewerage system worth HUF 420 billion (USD 1.53 billion), reports Hungarian news website Világgazdaság.

According to Világgazdaság, OLAF (the European Commission’s anti-fraud agency) has already received reports that the project’s special public procurement procedure was specially crafted to favor a select few big companies. These companies, which include Duna Aszfalt Kft., Mészáros és Mészáros Kft. and Békés Drén Kft., have close ties to the government and in some cases to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself, as in the case of Felcsút mayor Lőrinc Mészáros.

The call for tenders was issued by the National Development Program Office Nonprofit Kft. and would have covered Hungary’s six regions, allotting some HUF 70 billion per region.

According to Világgazdaság, Brussels did not explicitly cite a suspicion of corruption as the main reason for calling on Hungarian authorities to halt the public procurement procedure. Instead, EU authorities pointed at the overly complex manner in which the companies were selected, which, as a result, was not competitive but costly and unnecessary.

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