Response of the State Audit Office of Hungary to the statements made by Transparency International Hungary

2014. 03. 28. 11:03
The State Audit Office of Hungary (SAO) is compelled to establish that the Transparency International Hungary (TI) continuously disregards the statutory provisions governing election campaign funding and the audit thereof. We experience that TI – for a reason not known to us – is misleading the Hungarian and international public on the SAO’s activities. Therefore, we explicitly call TI’s attention to the fact that the SAO – based on statutory provisions – carries out the audit on the use of campaign funds following the election.
On 21 March 2014, Transparency International Hungary reacted on its website to a communication of the SAO of 18 March, in which the SAO disproved the substance of each untrue statement made earlier by TI’s legal director. In this latest communication of 21 March, Transparency International Hungary stated that ‘the SAO only seemingly audits campaign funding’.

We repeatedly point out that – in line with statutory provisions – following the election the SAO carries out the audit on the use of campaign funds in respect of the officially defined campaign period.

We recall that one day before TI’s latest misleading communication, the SAO issued a communication (in Hungarian) on the audit of campaign funds, providing detailed information on the SAO’s audit criteria and the general accountability requirements. As we see from TI’s latest communication, this document unfortunately escaped the attention of the organisation. In our latest communication we introduced in detail that the SAO audits the regularity of the use of campaign funds on the basis of the disbursement documents and other supporting documents (e.g. contracts, agreements, bank statements, remittance orders verifying disbursement by donators, invoices, accounting documents for expenditures and expenses), financial statements, statements by MPs, certifications, notifications, data made public in the Hungarian Official Journal, and the advertisment price lists sent by press organs and published on the SAO’s website. The SAO’s communication also addresses the issue that both constituency candidates and nominating organisations have to ensure that the documents related to campaign funding are treated separately from other documents and are handed over to the SAO’s auditors, so that they can establish the amount, source and way of use of the financial means, financial supports, and contributed assets used for campaign funding.
Accordingly, statements in TI’s latest communication, saying that ‘the SAO’s audits address only the form’ and ‘regularity of invoices is audited by the SAO only in formal terms’ are untrue. Neither complies with the truth the following statement in TI’s latest communication: ‘The SAO’s audit only addresses the issue whether the parties submitted the invoices with the adequate value’.

In response to TI’s statements we repeatedly underline that – based on the audit request and offer of evidence defined in the applicable Act – the SAO is ready to audit the accountability documents of any or, if appropriate, every constituency candidate and political party running for election.

We would like to point out that the general goal of the SAO’s audits is to cast light on irregularities and, if that is the case, on law infringements. If such cases are experienced in the course of auditing the use of campaign funds, we will call the attention to them and, if appropriate, make use of our powers granted by law.

It has to be stressed again that the SAO is an independent public institution, which does not take part in political struggles. Therefore, we explicitly request Transparency International Hungary not to mislead the Hungarian and international public on the SAO’s activities through its targeted statements, communications released during the campaign period and disregarding the Hungarian legislation in force.

At last we kindly request Transparency International Hungary to present those international good practices, examples on the audit by supreme audit institution of election campaign activities in other democratic countries, which serve as basis for TI to formulate expectations toward the SAO
State Audit Office of Hungary