The European Anti-Fraud Office (commonly known as OLAF from its French title of Office européen de lutte antifraude) is tasked with investigating fraud against the EU budget, corruption and serious misconduct within the European institutions as well as developing anti-fraud legislation and policies. Last week, it released its annual report on the protection of the EU’s financial interests which shows that Hungary had by far the highest share of financial irregularities of any member state between 2015 and 2019. OLAF conducted 235 investigations into the misuse of European Structural and Investment Funds and agricultural payments between 2015 and 2019, recommending that the European Commission recover 0.36% of total funding across all member states due to irregularities.
In Hungary, there were 43 probes into the misuse of funding and the recommended rate of recovery was far higher than the EU average at 3.93%. Hungary was also the top nation in the EU for financial irregularities in last year’s report with a 3.84% recommended recovery rate. Reacting to the report’s findings, the Hungarian government blamed policies initiated under the preceding socialist government for the high rate of recovery, particularly the Metro 4 project in Budapest which has been plagued by allegations of corruption. Slovakia had the second highest rate of irregularities/recovery in its funding at 0.53% while Portugal rounded off the top-three with 0.44%. Several countries performed well in this year’s report and OLAF did not make any recommendation to recover funding in Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta or Sweden.
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