Budapest (MTI) – Altus, a company owned by former premier Ferenc Gyurcsany, will file a suit against Viktor Orban, the incumbent prime minister, for his recent, “false and malignant” remarks concerning a European Commission contract the company has won.
Altus chief executive Klara Dobrev, who is Gyurcsany’s wife, said in a statement on Tuesday that Orban had been falsely suggesting that the EU finances Altus under cover of a business contract.
Altus expects Orban to publicly apologise for his remarks, the statement said.
In April, the government appealed to the EC for information concerning the 5 million euro contract awarded to Altus, the company selected to assess EU-financed development projects between 2014 and 2020.
Cabinet chief Janos Lazar said at the time that Altus could not do the job “impartially and without regard to political aspects”, and added that all this would harm trust in European institutions.
Lazar also suggested that the move may add up to illegal political party financing.
Fidesz on Tuesday asked for a government investigation into the company’s EC contract. The party has recommended changing the rules on incompatibility of positions and reviewing the lawfulness of the contract between Altus and the EC.
Fidesz lawmaker Gergely Gulyas said it was “unacceptable” for a company owned by a party leader to be given authority to assess EU-financed development projects. Gulyas noted that the EC contract was worth 1.5 billion forints, and that last year alone, Gyurcsany contributed 16 million forints (EUR 52,000) to his party, the Democratic Coalition.
Gulyas said Gyurcsany’s assets declaration suggests that Altus is the former prime minister’s only source for such high income, meaning that the matter also raises the question of covert party financing.
Gulyas said the entire matter is damaging to the reputation of the EC and the prestige of the EU in Hungary.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Gyurcsany said Orban was looking to “kill DK politically”, adding that the prime minister “would not succeed in doing so”. Gyurcsany said the remarks made by Orban, his government, his parliamentary group and his party were “absurd”. The former prime minister said his party “has a clear conscience”.
Gyurcsany said he had contributed 1-2 million forints (EUR 3,000-6,000) to DK over the past few years, and 16 million forints last year. He said it was “none of the prime minister’s or his party’s business” how he spends his income.
European Parliament Vice President Ildiko Gall Pelcz criticised Gyurcsany for not saying “a single word” on how a company owned by a party leader could get any assignment from the Commission. She said Gyurcsany did not deny cross-financing between his party and Altus, and did not mention what tasks his company would be performing for the Commission, and for what price.
She said Fidesz and KDNP have submitted a number of enquiries on the subject to the EC, but the Commission has so far not provided any answers relating to the assignment, nor its withdrawal. “Gyurcsany claims to have made regular visits to Brussels to meet with commissioners. We now know the reason for this: he has been lobbying for his own business interests, to finance his party through EU funds,” Pelcz said.