Corruption in the Union: Orban’s ‘Cash Register’
Fresh allegations have emerged that EU Structural Funds worth billions of Euros have been awarded to friends and family of Victor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary. The alarm has been raised by the EU’s anti-fraud office, Olaf, which says it has found “serious irregularities” over EU contracts. Orban’s circle are accused of using the EU as a ‘cash register’.
The charges of corruption fit well with Orban’s cynical, right-radical politics. The PM is a vociferous right-wing critic of the EU. He has compared it to the Soviet Union, and he is currently running a ‘Stop Brussels’ campaign.
Yet they are also somewhat ironic, given Hungary’s lucrative position inside the EU. Hungary remains one of the largest per capita recipients of EU’s economic development funds. Hungary is due to receive 25bn Euros over a 7-year period to 2021. However, a lack of an open competition process is cited which has resulted in sole bids being advanced by Orban’s family and allies. Most notably, his son-in- law, Istvan Tiborcz, won a contract to supply street lamps but these were charged at above market prices according to analysis carried out.
The MEP who leads the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee, Ingeborg Grassie, spoke of a new type of “semi legal” irregularity emerging whereby oligarchs become politicians and benefit at the same time from EU and national money for their companies.
DiEM25 has consistently campaigned for EU financial reform. These new charges against Orban suggest even more urgency to these reforms – not only to stanch out corruption, but also to strike at the root of Europe’s radical right politics in the process.
Photo: THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images
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