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Feb 07, 2017

Former mayor of Budapest to face parliamentary committee over M4 corruption scandal

Gábor Demszky's lawyer said the former mayor would cooperate with any investigation and has nothing to hide

Gábor Demszky, a former mayor of Budapest, is to appear before a parliamentary committee investigating corruption surrounding the city’s metro four line.

Demszky's lawyer György Magyar told Magyar Nemzet that the former mayor would comply with any investigation and has nothing to hide. 

According to MTI, Magyar said that Demszky’s legal responsibility was not at issue in the matter. The contract for building the fourth metro line was not signed by the metropolitan council but by the companies involved. Political responsibility should be distinguished from legal culpability, he said. Anyone who claims, based on the report by Europe’s anti-fraud office OLAF, that Demszky bears criminal liability violates the law, he added.

The news comes just days after the Hungarian government announced that they had published the OLAF report on the scandal, which “clearly shows” that the previous governments and Budapest’s earlier management are to blame for the corruption.

The alleged corruption identified in the report has been labelled the “largest corruption scandal of the past 13 years” due to which Hungary will probably have to repay a total 59 billion HUF to the European Union, which the community had contributed to the project.

Socialist lawmaker Csaba Horváth, who was deputy mayor under Demszky, has also said that he would be ready to give evidence to the committee if invited to do so. He likewise insisted that the metro 4 project had not fallen within the metropolitan council’s competence.

The current city leadership is totally unaffected by the findings of the OLAF report, Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlós told commercial broadcaster Lánchíd Radio on Tuesday. He said that with a single exception, all the findings of the report related to the period before the 2010 general election. The gravest issue concerns the contract for Alstom trains concluded before the 2006 elections, he added.

“I don’t believe there’s anything to discuss,” Tarlós said, adding that the single exception after 2010 related to a change in control engineers.

The mayor expressed surprise over the declaration by Demszky’s lawyer that the former mayor had had nothing to do with the matter when no one had raised any suspicions. Tarlós said he did not wish to make any accusation that Demszky “might bear any substantive or certain liability, but his behaviour can be considered strange.”