Hungary’s authorities are conducting a “real investigation” into alleged fraud concerning public lighting projects, Chief Prosecutor Peter Polt said in a letter to Ingeborg Graessle, head of the European Parliament’s budget control committee, on Monday.
Graessle had earlier urged effective steps to investigate projects by the Elios company, associated with Lajos Simicska and Istvan Tiborcz, after the European anti-fraud office OLAF raised suspicion of fraudulent activities.
Polt said in his letter that his office had received OLAF’s recommendations on January 8, and an investigation was launched two weeks later.
Polt also said that while OLAF had the authority to launch administrative investigations in the interest of the EU’s finances, “it has no powers to conduct criminal proceedings or investigate criminal cases”. He went on to say that while OLAF “had established a suspicion of fraud” it has not been verified that the activities had actually been committed, nor did OLAF identify suspected perpetrators. Graessle’s remarks, based on the OLAF findings, therefore, are “mistaken and could mislead the public”.
Polt also noted that since 2012, OLAF has sent 36 notifications to Hungary to call the attention of authorities to suspected criminal activities, with recommendations to investigate those cases. The Hungarian authorities launched investigations in all the cases, or attached the recommendations to the documents of cases which were already being probed, he added.