picture of Budapest City Hall

Telex takes a look at the continuing saga of whether the capital’s municipality really had an intention of selling Budapest City Hall or not, and it appears that the head of the city’s asset management company may have taken a few too many liberties in unauthorized discussions with potential investors.

A new video was released to editorial offices on Friday that continues to keep the story in the headlines. The video in question contains audio from a meeting in May of this year, in which Balázs Barts, CEO of Budapest Capital Asset Management Center, apparently discussed options for the future of City Hall that had already been rejected by the Budapest City Council.

The news source traces the story back to an original inquiry about purchasing City Hall around a year and a half ago. The city’s policy, originally introduced by Mayor Gergely Karácsony’s predecessor István Tarlós, was that real estate investors should meet with the city’s trustee instead of the mayor or councilmembers to reduce the risk of corruption. City leaders did not even know about the May 5 meeting, nor did they need to know about it, it was later determined.

While the city, as it expressed in a statement, feels that Barts “grievously erred” by informing real estate investors about the possibility of selling City Hall when such an option had already been rejected by the city, Karácsony has apparently ruled out firing Barts from his current role.

Telex has learned from Karácsony’s confidantes that Barts has run the capital’s real estate portfolio for seven years now, and although the current scandal doesn’t look good on him, the asset manager has had no other black marks besides this on his record, and has otherwise done a good job for the city.

[Telex]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.