EU anti-fraud authority Hungarian program for Roma supported by EU funds has never worked and should be investigated
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is recommending that a Hungarian Government program designed to support the Romani community entitled "Bridge to the World of Work" should be investigated. The program received 1.6 billion forints (EUR 5 million) to establish a social enterprise.
According to news published by Hungary's 24.hu daily, that expenditure could have been fraudulent because the program essentially never functioned and did not achieve any of its aims, not even partially, according to OLAF. Last October OLAF sent documents from the program to the Office of the Prosecutor-General in Hungary.
Even though the findings had not yet been published, OLAF recommended the case be reviewed as part of a criminal proceedings. In 2015, OLAF had already informed the Hungarian Government that financing might be being abused in association with the program.
For the time being, however, nobody has been identified as a suspect and no interrogations have taken place. The head of the program is Flórián Farkas, an MP with the governing Fidesz party.
According to OLAF, the Romani Minority Self-Government in Hungary (ORÖ) did not arrange the conditions for the operation of the cooperative enterprise, which cannot maintain operations on its own. No network of mentors, as was originally planned, was ever built.
Instead, several representatives of the ORÖ were employed by the program. Some real estate was purchased, but no work was ever done on it.
The Hungarian Human Resources Ministry, according to 24.hu, found a total of 24 irregularities with the program before OLAF began its own investigation. In 11 cases those irregularities have since been confirmed.
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