Gergely Karácsony, the mayor of Budapest, has issued a written reprimand to Balázs J. Barts, the chief executive of Budapest Capital City Property Management Centre (BVFK), in connection with reports of the possible sale of City Hall.
Karácsony said Barts had been wrong to discuss with real estate investors a preparatory study that presented possible long-term scenarios with regard to the sale of City Hall after 2030, as these had been rejected by the mayor’s cabinet.
Karácsony has made clear that he does not want to sell City Hall, according to a statement on Friday by the Mayor’s Office.
The statement said Barts’s duties included receiving inquiries from real estate investors and gauging the intentions of investors. Meeting such people and briefing them was a part of the job, it added. But he made a serious mistake when he presented an old study in connection with the City Hall property that no longer had any relevance, having been rejected by Karácsony’s administration.
Also, he should not have informally conveyed his personal opinion that may have cast doubt on the city administration’s decision, the statement said. As an official, he must not express his personal views on such a sensitive issue, it added.
At the same time, Barts, who was appointed by the former mayor István Tarlós in 2014, was otherwise carrying out his duties satisfactorily, the statement said.
Barts, it added, had been untainted by corruption and had spearheaded the introduction of an anonymous electronic bidding system as well as a unified municipal real estate database. He also helped to maximise the value of municipal properties by carrying out preparatory work for the development over various plots of land owned by the Budapest city council, and opened up opportunities for urban development, it added.
Barts, however, is now prohibited from communicating with external parties in his official capacity concerning the City Hall site, the statement said.
Meanwhile, Fidesz lawmaker Gyula Budai said on Friday he had filed a complaint to police regarding the sale of a property in the capital and the suspicion of influence peddling as indicated in press reports covering the City Hall story. The complaint relates to reports of a secret recording of two men discussing the purchase of a plot of land in the 12th district, which was purchased by Grebics Ingatlan for 101 million forints from the Budapest Metropolitan Council.