Government, EC views no closer on Altus affair, says Lazar
Brussels, June 2 (MTI) – The views of the government and the European Commission on a contract signed by the EC with Altus, a company owned by former prime minister and leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) party, Ferenc Gyurcsany, have moved no closer during talks on Tuesday, cabinet chief Janos Lazar said in Brussels.
Speaking after talks with EC director-general in charge of regional policy Walter Deffaa, Lazar said it was unacceptable that the company received a contract worth 5 million euros from the EC to check the utilisation of EU funding in Hungary.
The cabinet chief said the EC could not have taken into account requirements concerning impartiality and conflict of interest before awarding the contract, adding that it was only Altus that had to submit a statement about meeting the requirements.
“In my opinion the European Commission was not circumspect enough and made a grave error when it accepted the statement,” said Lazar, adding that Deffaa disagreed with and rejected his interpretation.
Lazar said he requested to view all the documents pertaining to the tender and asked the director-general to make the documents public, which Deffaa said had to be discussed with the Commission. Lazar said all voters and therefore the government had a right of access to this information.
The cabinet chief said the contract would be considered “illegal party financing” as Gyurcsany makes significant contributions to DK. “Giving money to Altus means giving money to Gyurcsany, which means making contributions to DK,” he said. Lazar said Deffaa was “not open” to this approach and asked for a written proposal, which the cabinet chief promised to submit on Wednesday.
Lazar said Gyurcsany and Altus have the option of relinquishing the assignment and the 5 million euros, thus making things “much easier for both the government and the Commission”.
Meanwhile, DK has published a letter sent by Deffaa to Lazar at the beginning of May. The director-general writes in it that the tender submitted by Altus was one of the three best offers and that the company won in an open competition. Deffaa said the assignment does not cover auditing or any form of assessment. The letter makes it clear that every member of the consortium led by Altus had to declare that the tender involved no conflict of interest or any other obstacle that would result in disqualification from the tender process.
In April, the government appealed to the EC for information concerning the contract awarded to Altus to assess EU-financed development projects between 2014 and 2020.