The excellent cooperation between the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the Prosecution Service of Hungary has been formalised in an administrative cooperation arrangement. The framework for the work carried out until now on the basis of common interests and objectives is now formally ensured by the administrative cooperation arrangement.
As a prelude to the arrangement, on 31 January 2020, Dr. Péter Polt received OLAF Director General Ville Itälä at the Office of the Prosecutor General. During the meeting, the parties confirmed that effective information exchange and cooperation between the organisations on criminal misuse of EU funds remains a priority. They also agreed to develop an administrative cooperation arrangement, which has now been finalised, to formally strengthen the already well-established professional relationship.
The completed cooperation arrangement was signed by Director-General, Mr Ville Itälä on behalf of OLAF and by Prosecutor General, Dr Péter Polt, on behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor General.
Cooperation activities between OLAF and the Office of the Prosecutor General will include, in particular, mutual exchange of information and operational assistance. The arrangement also allows for more joint training opportunities and technical assistance.
The cooperation with OLAF helps the Office of the Prosecutor General to fulfil its working arrangement with the European Public Prosecutor's Office. Hungary is not a member of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, but in April 2021, the Prosecution Service of Hungary – as the first and only one among the non-participating countries – concluded a working arrangement with the EPPO for the purpose of joint operation.
OLAF carries out investigations into administrative irregularities against EU funds, but it does not determine if a criminal offence has been committed or not, nor does it prove any criminal offences with evidence. OLAF has neither authorization nor any tools to do so.
Although no such legal obligation exists, the Prosecution Service of Hungary – in accordance with the set protocol – has issued an order on the opening of a criminal procedure in each case based on OLAF recommendations, and where an investigation was already ongoing, OLAF's recommendations were attached to the investigation files and were assessed as a part thereof.
The Annual Report of OLAF for 2020 clearly shows that the Prosecution Service of Hungary filed indictments in 67% of OLAF-cases. This figure is significantly higher than the EU average of 37%.
OLAF is more and more often making judicial recommendations in cases that are already under investigation in Hungary. Each recommendation from the last two years has already been under investigation.
The number of judicial recommendations has been steadily decreasing over the years. In 2016 ten, in 2017 six, in 2018 four, in 2019 three, whereas in 2020 and 2021 two recommendations each year were received from OLAF.
The Prosecution Service of Hungary and OLAF work closely together by regular meetings at both managerial and expert levels.