Hungarian official sacked from Orban’s office for corruption

BUDAPEST, May 9 (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office has fired an employee and is cooperating with a related investigation into allegations of corruption, he said on Monday after local media reported that a senior official had been accused of accepting bribes. .

The European Union has long accused Hungary of embezzlement and threatened to cut funding to the country unless it takes concrete steps to fight corruption.

The official, whose name has not been released, held the rank of department head and worked on EU-funded projects, the website reported.

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“We have terminated the employment of the only Prime Minister’s Office employee involved and we are cooperating fully with the authorities in their investigation,” the government spokesperson’s office said in an emailed response.

He said the procedure was a good example of what he called an effective system of criminal controls protecting Hungarian and EU funds.

He did not further specify the rank of the official concerned or his portfolio. Hungarian prosecutors said an investigation was underway for corruption and other offenses involving 20 suspects so far.

Last month, prosecutors said the alleged fraud involved projects worth a combined 10 billion forints ($27.5 million) funded in part by the Hungarian budget and EU funds.

Prosecutors declined to give further details on Monday.

In February, Reuters reported that the European Commission had asked Hungary to reform its public procurement laws to tackle systemic fraud before billions of euros from the bloc’s 750 billion euro RRF fund were released. at his disposal.

Last month, the Ministry of Finance said that three of its employees working on requests for funds had been arrested during the searches and had been suspended from their duties until the end of the investigation.

The European Commission sent an official letter to Hungary late last month in the first stage of a new push against what it says is Orban’s dismantling of democratic checks and balances. This process could also freeze funds for Hungary due to corruption risks.

($1 = 363.76 forints)

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Reporting by Anita Komuves; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Laura T. Thrasher