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Central bank governor proposes audit of foundations

Initiatives

György Matolcsy (pictured), the governor of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB), yesterday proposed the involvement of the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) in a review of the foundations of the central bank, according to reports, after Hungary’s Constitutional Court on March 31 struck down legislation that would have allowed MNB foundations to spend public money without disclosing how that money is spent.

Responding to a question by an MP of the opposition Socialists, Matolcsy suggested ÁSZ could even become involved in the probe of the foundations retroactively, adding that the Pallas Athéné Foundation (PADA) will release all data of public interest, Hungarian news agency MTI reported. He added that he acknowledges the decision of the Constitutional Court that funding for central bank foundations qualifies as public money and is subject to disclosure rules.

MNB deputy governor Márton Nagy said yesterday that the central bank respects the decision and foundations set up by the bank will provide all data requested.

Legislation to classify central bank spending was pushed through Parliament on March 1 in an expedited procedure after a journalist sued to gain access to details of the spending by the MNBʼs PADA foundation.

In a rare break with the wishes of the government that appointed him, Hungarian President János Áder on March 9 declined to sign that legislation, as well as a measure to make the operations of the Hungarian Post Office confidential. 

Hungary’s Supreme Court ruled on March 30 that the MNB must release data on all tenders managed by PADA up to the date of the data request by journalist Károly Csabai.

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