Photo: Wikipedia

Audit Office finds opposition parties received illegal campaign financing

The State Audit Office (ASZ) has established that parties in the opposition alliance before the 2022 parliamentary elections were involved in illegal campaign financing, ASZ head Laszlo Windisch said on Tuesday.

Presenting ASZ’s report on its investigation, Windisch said that the parties had received over 261 million forints (EUR 671,200) illegally from abroad via the Hungary Belongs to Everybody (MMM) movement.

ASZ has ruled that the beneficiaries of the illegal funding, Democratic Coalition, Jobbik, Momentum, the Socialist Party, and LMP should pay the entire sum shared equally to the central budget within 15 days.

Windisch added that national tax and customs authority NAV were investigating MMM in connection with a further 1.4 billion forints to “clarify if that sum had been used for campaign financing”.

ASZ’s report notes that the investigation had to be undertaken because accepting donations from abroad is illegal under Hungarian law.

Windisch noted that Peter Marki-Zay, the opposition’s joint candidate for prime minister in the parliamentary elections, had said after the vote that MMM had set up an account that had been used to fund the operations of the opposition’s central campaign, including candidates.

The ASZ chief said this clearly constituted illegal campaign financing, and the audit office had reached out to MMM seeking clarification of its role in supporting the campaign.

ASZ’s investigation found that MMM and the opposition parties had set up a campaign council to coordinate their campaigns, and MMM had used funds from abroad to partially finance the parties’ billboards, leaflets and other campaign material, as well as joint events. The parties accepted the support, thereby breaking regulations against illegal party financing.

Windisch said the parties cannot appeal ASZ’s report.

The opposition parties protested ASZ’s findings, saying they suspected political reasons behind it.

Momentum leader Anna Donath said in a statement that this was the second fine ASZ had imposed this year ahead of the European Parliament and local elections. “Their reasons are again ridiculous, and they are using show proceedings to try to stymie their opponents,” she said.

Jobbik – Conservatives said the ASZ fine had been imposed by the government as “an act of revenge for the clemency scandal that erupted in recent weeks” with the aim of stymying their rivals in the upcoming elections.

The Socialist Party said they did not acknowledge ASZ’s findings and would take legal action, insisting that there were clearly political reasons behind the office’s decision. Their statement added that if the opposition parties contested the elections together, “these kinds of attempts to undermine them could be unsuccessful”.

The Democratic Coalition said it would take “all possible legal steps” in connection with the fine. The party said it would sue the state treasury if it carried out ASZ’s decision.

Leave a Reply