Audit office sends audit draft reports to six Hungarian parties
Six of Hungary’s political parties whose audits pertaining to 2015-2016 were scheduled for the second half of this year have received the draft reports on their audits, the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) said on Thursday.
The parties in question — LMP, the Democratic Coalition, the Socialist Party, the Hungarian Liberal Party, Együtt and Párbeszéd — have fifteen days to make any remarks about the draft reports before the final reports are published, ÁSZ said.
Jobbik’s audit was also scheduled for the second half of this year, while those of the ruling and co-ruling Fidesz and Christian Democrat parties were not.
ASZ noted in a statement that regulations on illegal party financing changed on January 1, 2014.
Under these regulations, it is against the law for parties to accept donations from legal entities, entities without legal personality, other states, foreign organisations and legal entities who are not Hungarian citizens.
It is also illegal for parties to make use of services at below market prices. These include the use of billboards, renting property or accounting services.
ÁSZ’s statement comes after several opposition parties that were audited in December objected to the office’s draft report on their financing and potential fines indicated in them.
Earlier this month, ASZ issued a report indicating that Jobbik would have to pay a 660 million forint (EUR 2.1m) fine for alleged party financing violations.
In the spring, the party ran an anti-government poster campaign. The audit office conducted a financial investigation of the campaign, determining that Jobbik had received a sweetheart deal worth some 330 million forints in violation of the rules in force. It ordered the party to pay a penalty of double this amount.
Jobbik has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay the potential fine. Last Friday, the party held a demonstration at Fidesz’s headquarters to protest against what it called “the evolving dictatorial regime” of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and ASZ’s effort “to sideline the party”.
Green opposition LMP also slammed the draft report it had received as “unbelievable”.
In the report, ASZ indicated that the party would have to be fined a total of 16 million forints for allegedly paying too little rent for its headquarters, LMP co-leader Ákos Hadházy said.
Although such a fine would not crush LMP, it is still a hefty fine, Hadházy said, suggesting that the procedure was only meant to give the impression in the media that LMP had grossly violated party financing laws.
Hadházy said this was the first time ASZ had raised any issue with the rent LMP pays for the property. He said the party had been renting the same 260 sqm apartment in Budapest’s 13th district for 400,000 forints a month since 2012.
“It seems that everything is fine with Fidesz, but LMP is one of the biggest obstacles to democracy,” Hadházy said.