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EU to claw back €300 million of metro funds

January 18th, 2017

Commenting on the recommendation by the anti-fraud agency (OLAF) of the European Union that Hungary should be compelled to refund the equivalent of 75 billion forints of European contributions because of alleged corruption, a pro-government columnist urges exemplary punishment for the culprits.

In a report on its investigation into the financing of the new M4 Budapest metro line, OLAF recommended to the European Commission that it claim back €228 million, while €55 million should be repaid to the European Investment Bank. OLAF has also submitted judicial recommendations to the Hungarian authorities. An investigation into the matter by the General Prosecutor is already underway in Hungary.

In Magyar Idők, Károly Bán recalls that the metro line which runs from north-east to south-west was the “the dream come true” of former liberal Mayor Gábor Demszky. Although the OLAF report covers the whole building period from 2006 to 2015, Bán argues that the current government had no choice but to go ahead with the project in 2010, when the previous left-liberal administration was voted out of office. He quotes a report by an official consultant who warned the left-liberal Budapest leadership in 2007 of the lack of transparency within the project, but whose warnings were ignored at the time. The commentator finds it sad that inquiries into mishandling of public funds in Budapest under the previous governments have yielded only symbolic results. He hopes that the OLAF report will now ‘for a change help make the dream of Budapest’s citizens come true’ – and that the culprits will receive the punishment they deserve.


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