Fraudsters beware

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By Jim OHagan
Fraudsters beware

The EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF have been busy. 2017 saw 197 investigations leading to 309 recommendations to recover of €3 billion for the EU budget. Three countries - Romania, Poland and particularly Hungary seemed to be the focus of the most intense scrutiny.

Nicholas Ilett, OLAF's Director General told Euronews:

"There is not a necessary correlation between the number of investigations we do and the level of fraud or corruption in the particular country. If we have a lot of investigation that might just indicate that we have a lot of cooperation. Or a lot of information at the moment about the particular country. So I wont draw general conclusions."

In Hungary OLAF launched an investigation against Elios, the former company of Prime Minister Orban's son in law, Istvan Tiborc.

OLAF suspects that an organised crime mechanism was misusing EU funds destined for street-lightning projects whilst Tiborcz was at the company's helm. Certain lamps were sold at 50% above the market rate.

"I am very aware that this investigation had a political impact," explained Ilett. "But there is nothing special about the investigation, we do lots of these investigations in lots of different countries. So we will continue what we are doing. "

The investigation was launched in 2015 but Hungarian authorities have so far refused to open criminal proceedings.