Responding to political opposition accusations of financial impropriety, András Patyi, the rector of the National Public Service University (NKE), on Sunday complained that he and the university were victims of a “concerted” smear campaign against them.
Green opposition LMP co-leader Ákos Hadházy has accused the NKE of soliciting EU funding multiple times for identical projects, overpricing and unjustified spending. He said
EU auditors had raised the alarm over “extremely serious abuses” suspected at the university, adding that Patyi may bear criminal responsibility.
Patyi said in a statement yesterday that the university “has nothing to hide” and was open to investigation.
LMP recently published a list of public figures that the party plans to make the subject of criminal proceedings, and Patyi was on the list both in his capacity as NKE rector and the head of the national election committee.
Patyi said he was shocked not only about the number of attacks but also about “their crude nature which lack any professionalism”.
He said attacks against him conflated his roles as rector and head of the election office. This, he said, was borne out by a leaked list of public figures in which he was singled out as someone who “prevents referendums”. LMP has made numerous failed attempts to launch referendums on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, he noted.
the NKE drew EU funding in cooperation with at least fifty partners, including 15 universities. Hadházy’s “empty attacks” were therefore “made against the scientific community”, he insisted.
He dismissed the accusations regarding spending on “unnecessary research” and “overpricing”.
NKE does not employ subcontractors and the projects only make use of NKE employees and other higher education institutions as well as government offices, he added.
Patyi accused LMP of fabricating news of an EU audit. The EU only asked certain questions which the university answered, and the issue was closed, he said.
Patyi said LMP’s attacks would not prevent the university from continuing its “diverse educational activities, research and developments that aim to improve the competitiveness of Hungary’s public administration”.
The construction of the NKE Ludovika Campus will continue, he said. This includes revamping a one-time fencing club and building public sport facilities in Orczy Park where the university is located, he added.
Hadházy said in response today that if Patyi had nothing to hide, then he should make public the questions raised by the EU controllers and the university’s responses concerning the use of EU funds by the institution. In a statement, the LMP politician said that contrary to Patyi’s claims that LMP’s criticisms were purely political, the authorities had started an investigation against the university for abuse of funds.
At a press conference on May 8, the university’s leaders said they had published all documents concerning development projects that had come under attack on the university website. Patyi stated they involved no irregularities.