Since the Hungarian government has not responded to his inquiry, István Ujhelyi is now asking the European Commission for the accounting records of the EU funding provided for free covid tests, as he believes that the use of the HUF 900 million budget is highly suspicious of corruption. This was announced by the MEP of MSZP-Dialogue in his online press conference, which was held in house quarantine due to covid infection.
Ujhelyi said it was stomach-churning that people and business circles linked to Fidesz had demonstrably profited from the purchase of equipment linked to the epidemic, and that this could also affect the HUF 900 million EU budget that the European Union granted the Hungarian government last year for the purchase of tests, although no information is yet available on the exact use of the money.
Ujhelyi said that almost a week ago he turned to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to find out exactly how and to whom free or reduced-price covid tests were provided from the non-reimbursable budget, which Ujhelyi, among others, had initiated in the European Parliament. The MSZP politician pointed out that the HUF 900 million package for Hungary as part of the €100 million overall framework would have provided a reduced-rate test last year to Hungarians who had to travel for work, study, commuting or other personal reasons, but were obliged to take the test because of restrictions.
Because of the flat-rate amount set by the European Commission, this could have affected hundreds of thousands of people, but as Ujhelyi pointed out, there is no real sign of this option in government communications. The MSZP politician said that since the government had failed to respond to his request in this regard, he would now turn to the European Commission to obtain the accounting records submitted by Hungary, which in principle should have been sent to Brussels in November last year. Ujhelyi stressed that if it turns out that business circles close to Fidesz have been profiting from this budget, he will also file the necessary report with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
A significant part of the population has suffered because of covid; many people have lost their loved ones and their livelihoods because of the epidemic, while Fidesz, entirely ignoring opposition criticism, has done nothing apart from making political and economic profit”, the MSZP MEP said.
Ujhelyi recalled that in September 2020, the public interest data he requested revealed that the government had first purchased covid tests worth HUF 9.6 billion, but even then there were some suppliers that were mainly engaged in real estate sales or had appeared in Azeri cases important to the Orbán government.
The Socialist politician also said at the press conference that Lőrinc Mészáros is also known to have interests in at least two companies, in one of them together with a local Fidesz-representative from Hévíz, that have recently recorded billions in sales, thanks in part to their booming covid-testing service. Referring to information published in the press, Ujhelyi also mentioned a company originally providing Thai massage services, which in a short time has become a nearly HUF 2 billion business thanks to a contract with the National Hospital Directorate General for antigen tests, and in which a former Fidesz MP and former state secretary was also involved.
At the same time, Ujhelyi called the deal involving the former Fidesz parliamentary group leader of Ferencváros the „most brazen and vile, suggestive of serious corruption”, in this case the National Hospital Directorate General ordered rapid tests worth HUF 3.1 billion from a company that the ruling party politician had only founded in the months before the contract was signed. Moreover, as a further detail of the peculiar business, the MEP added that the Fidesz politician quickly sold the company to a young man in his twenties living in a village in Borsod after the deal. According to Ujhelyi, the question is therefore whether any of the HUF 900 million budget frame he initiated and made available to Hungary ended up in Fidesz’s circles through similar deals. The MSZP MEP made it clear that if need be, he would sue for the necessary data in EU and Hungarian courts.
Budapest/Brussels – 12.01.2022.