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Audit office head: Revamped office working ‘independently of pressure’

Hungary's Audit Office (ASZ) was fully revamped during the past year, and its renewed structure and approach allows it to fulfill its constitutional role more effectively and to protect the lawful use of EU and government funds, ASZ head Laszlo Windisch said on Tuesday.

Commenting on a report recently presented to the European Parliament based on a review of the EP’s budgetary control committee in May, Windisch noted that the committee was not interested in ASZ’s work at the time but focused on practices under an earlier leadership. They “wanted to hear generic, political statements on public purchases and the accumulation of wealth of specific people” rather than the methodology and approach used in current reviews, Windisch said.

ASZ stood by its principle to refrain from assessing the work of the previous leadership, he said.

Windisch said it was “surprising and an unprecendented instance of political pressure” that the opposition Democratic Coalition, which was at the time under ASZ review, “mounted a personal attack against the head of ASZ, with the aim of influencing MEPs and applying political pressure”.

The committee’s report “suits the hearings well, which seemed political theatre”, Windisch said. “The report is clearly a political statement, prepared without any consideration of facts,” he said.

Windisch noted that three of the four members of the delegation had earlier voted in favour of an “absurd EP resolution which called for the removal of heads of Hungary’s independent, constitutional institutions … based solely on a 2017 article expressing the private opinions of two leaders of Transparency International Hungary,” he said.

ASZ rejects all attempts to curb its independence and will continue to conduct its reviews impartially and according to the highest professional standards, he said.

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