Hungary chooses PwC partner to lead new anti-corruption body overseeing EU funds

BUDAPEST, November 4 (Reuters) – Hungary’s Court of Auditors has chosen PricewaterhouseCoopers forensic partner Ferenc Biro to lead a new anti-corruption body to be launched by mid-November as part of efforts to regain access to EU funds blocked due to corruption risks. .

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government has been locked in battles with Brussels over corruption, migration, LGBTQ rights and democratic standards.

In September, the EU executive recommended suspending some 7.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in funding for Hungary over corruption, the first such case in the 27-nation bloc under a new sanction intended to better protect the rule of law.

With inflation hitting two-decade highs and the economy heading for a sharp slowdown due to fallout from war in neighboring Ukraine, Hungary needs funds to stave off recession and stabilize its debt-ridden economy .

State Audit Office Chairman Laszlo Windisch chose Biro, whose application received the highest score and was also approved by a selection committee of candidates for the post, as part of 17 commitments made by Hungary to unlock EU funding.

Biro, a partner at PwC since September 2020, has experience in prevention, detection and compliance tasks based on his LinkedIn profile, with clients including high net worth individuals and large law firms.

Biro also worked at Ernst & Young, where he built and led a fraud detection and prevention team for over 13 years. Hungarian President Katalin Novak is due to appoint the new leaders of the Integrity Authority on Friday.

The body, which will be launched by November 19, will be responsible for strengthening the prevention, detection and correction of fraud, conflicts of interest and corruption.

The Authority and the members of its board of directors must be completely independent. It will have extensive powers such as that of ordering contracting authorities to suspend a procurement procedure and to request investigations.

($1 = 1.0229 euros)

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs Editing by Mark Potter

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