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

The Right to Know Day

28th September is the ‘Right to Know Day’ in 90 countries around the world. The idea was born on 28 September, 2002, on an international meeting of Freedom of Information organizations in Sofia, Bulgaria. On that day, Freedom of Information Advocates (FOIA) Network was also founded with the aim of promoting the individual right of access to information and open, transparent governance.

Does the European Council have the right to close its doors?

The European Ombudsman found that the Council did not give any appropriate reason for carrying out its legislation activity behind closed doors.

HCLU called OGP to investigate the situation in Hungary

Last fall, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) adopted a new policy to help re-establish an environment for government and civil society collaboration, safeguarding the Open Government Declaration and to mitigate reputational risks to OGP. Today, members of Hungarian civil society, including representatives of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Transparency International Hungary and K-Monitor, as well as Sunlight’s international policy manager, a former employee of K-Monitor, called on the OGP Steering Committee to take action under the new policy and launch a thorough investigation into the situation in Hungary, with a special attention to the deterioration of the space for civil society.