SAO president: “The renewed State Audit Office of Hungary carries out its professional activity regardless of the intentions of exerting pressure”

László Windisch stressed: he continues to reject attempts to undermine the independence of the SAO

Budapest, 5 September 2023 – “The State Audit Office of Hungary underwent a complete renewal so both the organizational structure and the methodological approach changed significantly over the past year to fulfil its constitutional tasks in a more effective way, thus safeguarding the legal use of both national and EU funds.” –  said László Windisch, President of the SAO to the Hungarian News Agency (MTI) in connection with the report under discussion on the visit of the European Parliament delegation in May. The President drew attention to the fact that the SAO is currently conducting several audits with direct EU involvement, such as the targeted audit of EU subsidies provided from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve as well as the Rural Development Programme.

Commenting on the EP delegation’s visit in May, László Windisch said that it was surprising that the EP representatives were not at all interested in the ongoing audits, their current methodologies, the developments of the new data and risk-based audit approach, or even the renewal of the audit methodology related to public procurement. The EP delegation only asked about the functioning of the SAO in previous years – under a different leadership – and they would have expected a general, political position on the national situation of integrity and the wealth creation of specific persons. László Windisch said that the management of the SAO maintained to refrain from evaluating the professional work of the previous management and was only willing to formulate a professional opinion based on the experience of examinations and analyses.

SAO President also called it surprising and an unprecedented political pressure in the history of the SAO that, as member of the EP delegation, the representative of the Democratic Coalition Party (DK) involved in the audit of campaign financing, launched a personal attack against the President of the SAO currently auditing his party, in an attempt to influence other MEPs, and to put the independent State Audit Office under political pressure.

László Windisch deemed that the report of the EP Budgetary Control Committee fits well with the hearing, which seems more like a political theatre constituting clearly a political statement made with disregard for real facts.

László Windisch highlighted that, in his opinion, one could not have expected much else  from the EP delegation, whose members – three out of four – voted a few weeks ago in favor of that absurd EP resolution without any criticism or sensitivity to the rule of law, in which, among other things, Hungary is called upon to remove heads of independent, constitutional bodies – for example, the Constitutional Court of Hungary, the Curia of Hungary, the Central Bank of Hungary, the State Audit Office of Hungary – , solely because of the article of two leaders of Transparency International Hungary published six years ago in 2017, expressing their private opinion that the holders of the referred positions were all biased.

“And this is not a joke”, said the President – the EP document itself deems the personal opinion of two individuals as the only evidence.

According to President Windisch, in terms of its professionalism, the chapter of the EP Budgetary Control Committee report dealing with the SAO of Hungary also represents a standard, which rather seeks to discredit the State Audit Office of Hungary currently conducting an audit on the irregularities of campaign financing.

László Windisch emphasized that he continues to reject efforts and investigations undermining the independence of the SAO, and regarding the future the institution will conduct its audits – including the audit of campaign financing – impartially and in accordance with the highest professional standards.