Norway Funds accuses Hungarian prime minister’s office of harassment

May 30, 2014

Viking

The director of the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO) in Brussels responsible for coordinating and supervising the EEA/Norway Grants wrote to cabinet chief Janos Lazar (pictured) on Wednesday in response to a letter it received on May 26 informing it that the Government Inspection Authority (KEHI) would make a thorough audit of the Norway Civil Fund to clarify “whether or not there were any grounds for government suspicion” the fund was supporting organizations with close links to political parties, in particular Politics Can Be Different (LMP).

According to a statement released on Wednesday by Ökotárs Foundation CEO Veronika Mora, KEHI is not authorized to examine the Norway Civil Fund because the latter makes no use of Hungarian taxpayer money. Ökotárs Foundation helps administer the Norway Civil Fund in Hungary, sponsoring a variety of programs. The statement says: 

The cooperation agreement signed between the supporting countries and Hungary and related regulations do not give organs of the Hungarian government the right to oversee the activities of the EGT(EEA)/Norway Fund (NCTA), for which the FMO is exclusively responsible.  According to the applicable rules “the beneficiary country does not undertake either financial nor miscellaneous responsibility for the running of the program.”  In accordance with the work program approved by the donors, it was via an open tender that a consortium led by the Okotars Alapitvany came to be chosen by FMO with the organization of NCTA.  NCTA resources are provided entirely by Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.  No Hungarian public funds of any kind are used by the Fund. In accordance with the above, the FMO and third parties authorized by FMO are authorized to inspect and examine Okotars’ work.

Okotars regularly provides FMO with technical and financial accounts all of which to date have been found to be in order and accepted.  In fact, the NCTA “half time” evaluation performed by external authorized parties is starting now.  Furthermore, preparations are under way to systematically audit NCTA which is expected to happen by the end of the year.

According to Mora, NCTA has “nothing to hide” and “always cooperates with bodies authorized to inspect”.  Nevertheless, it considers examinations having no legal basis and unclear objectives more a form of harassment rather than a method of a demonstrating transparency.