Press Release: The Hungarian Privatization and State Holding Company Ordered to Release Secret Privatization Clauses

The journalist of Manager Magazine has won the lawsuit against the Hungarian Privatization and State Holding Company (ÁPV Rt.). The establishment has been ordered to release two privatization contracts from the 90’s along with the secret clauses, within 15 days. By reaching this verdict, the Capital Court of Appeal has confirmed the previous, first instance decision of the court, that the documentation (contracts, memorandums) is to be considered public interest data.

Backed by the magazine’s editors and represented by HCLU’s Legal-aid Service, the lawsuit was initiated in November of 2006, by former journalist of Manager Magazine, Ákos Moskovics. It is a high priority of the HCLU to provide legal support for journalist, who need to initiate lawsuits in order to gain public interest information from state institutions. The verdict, which is in favor of information freedom is considered of great significance with regard to transparency, privatization, the effective functioning of the media and the monitoring of public funds.

Manager Magazine has turned to the courts, due to refusal of access last October of privatization contracts of the Mátra Power Plant and Dunamenti Power Plant. The Act on Protection of Personal Data and Freedom of Information clearly states: organizations attending to state assignments are obliged to give out public data relating to state funds and contracts connected to those –with the exception of a few- to anyone. The matter of making public to the tax-payers the documents which are part of the record-income providing and disputed energetic privatization contracts and relevant Bokros-package, has come up from time to time.

The November issue of Manager Magazine published an article of István Kocsis, current CEO of the Hungarian Power Companies Ltd., who in 1995 as Vice-CEO of HPSHC was responsible for execution of the energetic privatization. Citing the article: “in some cases classified clauses were added to the energetic contracts. This happened in the case of the Mátra Thermal Power Station, which was sold to the German RWE. In the classified clause, HPSHC based on the Bükkábrány lignite-mine, has pledged to expand the capacity by double 500MW for the 26million payed by the German company beyond the 74million purchase price. However the Orbán-administration judged the expanding of capacity to be redundant, and due to breach of contact had to pay compensation to RWE, who has by that time bought the lignite-mine. The circumstances of signing of the clause has been inspected by a subcommittee of the parliament, where István Kocsis was also heard. At that time he was already employed by RWE.”

Magazine staff members believe, that if they are able to gain access to these documents – which dispose of the selling of common assets of citizens – then truth could come to light.

 

Share

Related articles

Proposed constitution is serious threat to right to information

In yet another assault on freedom of expression and information, the Hungarian government adopted a new Constitution on Monday 18 April which will abolish independent oversight of the public’s right to know.

There is No Effective Control Over National Security - Three Civil Organizations File Complaints with the Constitutional Court

The Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Transparency International Hungary seek to jointly challenge the new Act on the protection of classified information, promulgated on April 1st, and several provisions of the Act on national security before the Constitutional Court.

HCLU Wins Landmark Freedom of Information Case

The Hungarian Ministry of Development and Economics is ordered to disclose data, which reveal what investments worth 200 billion Hungarian forints – nearly 800 million euros - were carried out by Swedish companies in exchange for the purchase of Gripen fighter-jets by the Hungarian Air Force. The journalist of on-line newspaper, origo.hu – with legal representation provided by the HCLU - has initiated a Freedom of Information lawsuit in December, 2007, because the Ministry has previously rejected to provide information to the journalist’s FOI request. According to the September 8th ruling of the Regional Court of Appeals, the defendant Ministry acted unlawfully.