Budapest, June 22 (MTI) – The Socialist Party says energy trader MET ‘raked in’ 150 billion forints (EUR 482m) through the government’s gas trade regime, while the state made a mere 4.1 billion forints (EUR 13m).
The Socialists had won a lawsuit in March as a result of which energy company MVM was ordered to disclose contracts and documents related to gas trading, deputy group leader Bertalan Toth told a press conference on Monday.
Toth said his party will do everything to make sure that “the money obtained between 2011 and 2014 is given back to the Hungarian people”. He said “due to Hungarian legal restrictions” the party is considering turning to the European Commission on suspicion of illegal state aid.
He said the government had cut household utility fees by 3,000 forints a month (EUR 10) as part of its utility cuts scheme, while it could have reduced the price of gas and district heating services by a further ten percent, or 10,000 forints (EUR 32) per year. Instead, people close to ruling Fidesz and co-ruling KDNP made over 3.5 billion forints (EUR 11m) a month “by stealing cheaply imported gas,” he said.
The politician noted that in 2011 a ministerial decree required a certain amount of gas to be kept in reserve for the purpose of providing cheap energy to district-heated housing, hospitals, nurseries and schools. For replenishing this amount, MVM’s trading company, MVM Partner, was granted an opportunity to import cheap gas from Austria, he said. But it was at this point that the gas failed to reach the intended end-users and ended up with MET, which then sold the gas at the market price, Toth insisted.
MET issued a statement and denied the magnitude of its profits as well as the conclusion of press reports. In its statement, the company called those claims false, and insisted that they “compared products priced at different locations and different times, resulting in false margins and profits”.
MET also insisted that it had not been granted preferential access to gas from Austria – it had received larger quantities because it had paid more than any other buyers. The company also said that it had not distributed any controlled-price gas for district heating except for one occasion, when it had purchased 2.6 percent of the total quantity auctioned, and under the same conditions as any other bidder.
The agreements now published “clearly reflect that recent claims (concerning MET’s business) are false” and that those agreements were necessary and were professionally executed.
The report the Socialists had used to support their claims is “no more than eyewash couched in technical terms aimed at nothing else but political hysteria”, MET said in its statement.