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FORMER JOBBIK MEP ACQUITTED OF ESPIONAGE, SENTENCED ON FRAUD CHARGES

 

Béla Kovács, a former Jobbik MEP, has been acquitted of charges of espionage but sentenced to a suspended prison term of 18 months and fined 600,000 forints (EUR 1,640) for defrauding the EP budget, the Greater Budapest Court said. The Constitutional Protection Office, Hungary’s internal security intelligence agency, filed a report against Kovács in April 2014 after it was revealed by the civil national security services that he had regularly met Russian diplomats and paid monthly visits to Moscow. The European Parliament lifted his immunity in October 2015. Charges were raised in early December of that year on suspicion that he had spied against EU institutions for Russia between 2012 and 2014. In 2017, the EP lifted his immunity in connection with another case. Hungary’s chief prosecutor Péter Polt requested the procedure citing information from the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF, which suggested that between 2012 and 2013, Kovács hired four interns who never turned up in Brussels. The EP then merged the two investigations. In the same year, he was charged by the Hungarian prosecutor with budgetary fraud, as well as betrayal of public trust. The MEP has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.