Shady company paid HUF 482 million to guard empty refugee camps

September 9, 2016

MTI Fotó: Balázs Attila
MTI Fotó: Balázs Attila

The Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality (Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal) signed a contract in July with a company charged with guarding the four refugee camps in the country, reports Magyar Nemzet. The company, Bizalom Vagyonvédelmi Szolgáltató Zrt. (Trust Property Protection Services) was awarded HUF 482 million (USD 1.76 million) for guarding camps or reception centers at Bicske, Vámosszabadi, Debrecen and Nagyfa.

By the time the lucrative contract was signed, two of the camps were already non-operational: the Debrecen camp was shut down last December, and the camp at Nagyfa was closed in May. The camp at Bicske is slated for suspension by the end of the year.

Bizalom Vagyonvédelmi Szolgáltató Zrt., the security company hired to guard the empty camps “24 hours a day, in 12 hour shifts”, has come under scrutiny before for its tendency to create “frequently changing phantom subcontractors” to do its work. The company officially employs 108 people, not nearly enough to fulfill its many contracts. It establishes a chain of subcontracting companies to undertake the work, and this way, when it comes time to pay taxes, they can liquidate the subcontracting companies and take their earnings tax-free, writes Átlátszó blog. (Not a small sum: they earned HUF 1.4 billion [USD 5.1 million] in 2014 and HUF 1.3 billion last year.)

A disagreement with the neighbors

The camps may not remain empty for long, however. Austria declared Wednesday that it will initiate legal proceedings against Hungary if the latter refuses to take back those asylum-seekers who must be processed in the first EU country they entered, according to EU law.

Austrian Interior Secretary Wolfgang Sobotka told Austrian radio, “The European Union is responsible for enforcing the Dublin Accords, and any member country or group of countries that consistently violate the law can count on legal consequences.” When asked what Vienna would do if Hungary refused to take back the asylum seekers, Sobotka said, “In this case Austria must initiate a lawsuit.”

Hungarian officials counter with the argument that most asylum-seekers who Austria wants to send back to Hungary in fact first entered the EU through Greece, and should therefore be sent there.

“The Hungarian position is simple and unchanged: We will only take those back who first entered the European Union through Hungary,” said Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó.

However, several court decisions have already determined that refugees cannot be sent back to Greece because the state of its asylum system is inhumane and degrading.