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How Orban’s Son-in-Law Lit Up Hungary

EU and Hungary are probing irregularities in dozens of public tenders won by Istvan Tiborcz’s company.

7 September 2018

A Hungarian news outlet has released more details of the European Union investigation into a company formerly run by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s son-in-law, Istvan Tiborcz.


Tiborcz (pictured) co-owned and ran Elios, a company contracted by numerous Hungarian towns to modernize outdoor lighting in the years from 2009 until 2015. He had sold his shares by the time the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) launched its investigation.


OLAF reported on its two-year probe into Hungary’s use of European Union funds in January 2018, finding “serious irregularities” and “conflicts of interest” in the award of some three dozen contracts to Elios, OCCRP says.


Hungarian prosecutors opened an investigation into “excessive budgetary fraud … and other crimes” revealed by OLAF, Reuters reported in February.


More specific details have gradually become public, following freedom of information requests filed by the Hungarian news site Atlatszo.


In its latest report, Atlatszo details Elios’s activity in the town of Vac, a few miles north of Budapest, after a court ordered the municipality to release documents when it failed to act on the original FOI request.


The Vac municipality received 421.9 million forints of EU funds (then worth $1.5 million) for the lighting work and contributed 87.6 million forints of city funds. The documents show that the government agency responsible for distributing EU funds changed the criteria needed for a company to be eligible to win the Vac contract only three days before the beginning of the application process in February 2013, Atlatszo writes.


Ultimately, Elios was the sole bidder for a contract to install new LED streetlamps.


The documents also show inconsistencies in cost estimates provided by the bidders and reveal that employees of Elios and of a company owned by a friend of Tiborcz wrote the end-of-project audit, Atlatszo says.


While OLAF cannot take any legal action against Elios, it has recommended that the Hungarian authorities take action. Index, a Hungarian news site, reported in July that the Hungarian police had confiscated documents related to Elios.



  • Apart from Tiborcz, others close to Orban have also become wealthy in a short amount of time. Orban’s childhood friend Lorinc Meszaros, a former pipe fitter, is now the second richest man in Hungary, according to Atlatszo.


  • Companies connected with Meszaros won public tenders worth 280 million euros in July alone, Atlatszo writes. Companies controlled by his friend Laszlo Szijj won 201 million euros worth of tenders in July either alone or in consortiums.


Compiled by Orsolya Liddiard
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