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Investigating Committee Finds No Evidence Capital Wanted to Sell Budapest City Hall

picture of Budapest City Hall

The special committee investigating the City Hall affair has wrapped up its work, determining that Budapest city administrators did not make a decision to sell the City Hall building, nor was any evidence found that city tenders had been specifically tailored towards any one applicant.

The work of the capital’s inquiry committee set up to investigate the City Hall case is now over.

-wrote Momentum’s Tamás Soproni, the vice-chairman of the committee, in a Facebook post. The panel questioned more than 10 witnesses, including Mayor Gergely Karácsony, and reviewed some 5.5 GB of documents.

On this basis, the committee made five findings, the first of which was that the Budapest City Council made no decision to sell the City Hall building in October 2019. In fact, it determined that Mayor Karácsony had set guidelines for further developing the building at a meeting of the Mayor’s Cabinet on May 26, 2020.

The committee also found no evidence that any city tender had been restricted to such an extent that it had been tailored for a particular applicant, nor was there any evidence that a “commission system” existed for any sales done on behalf of the city.

Both of these charges were made in audio recordings that had been covertly recorded and played in videos that were sent to media companies by a masked person calling himself “Anonymous.”

The special committee also questioned an expert on whether “the way in which the audio recordings were made, edited together, and made public were consistent with Russian-type disinformation campaigns, and whether a conclusion could be drawn as to a connection between the release of the audio recordings and possible outside interference in the 2022 parliamentary elections.”

On this point, Soproni also wrote:

The committee did not have the authority to conduct in-depth investigations into this specific matter, but experts opinion holds that the 2022 elections are of paramount importance to Russia’s security policy aims, which raises the possibility, based on experiences in other countries, of intervention through the use of Russian interests.

News of the alleged plan to sell Budapest City Hall appeared after Index wrote a series of articles on the subject last November, citing various documents claiming that city leaders were planning to sell the building.

Mayor Karácsony has consistently denied that the capital had any intent to sell Budapest City Hall. Questioned by the investigating committee last Monday, Karácsony told them that a development strategy for the City Hall complex containing the advantages and disadvantages of various proposals was formulated in October 2020.

However, the last few lines of the document clearly stated that the city did not wish to sell the building, which it otherwise could not legally do, he said. [Népszava, Telex]

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