news letter Our mobile application

Weekly newsletter

Theater Uni Outgoing Leadership Suggests Political Reasons Behind Audit Office Claims About Financial Irregularities

Ábrahám Vass 2020.09.09.

The State Audit Office (ÁSZ) says it has been finding irregularities in the financial management of the University of Theater and Film Arts (SZFE) for around ten years now. SZFE’s outgoing leadership, however, says ÁSZ is not aware of the facts and suggests that they are fulfilling “governmental orders.” 

The ÁSZ statement, issued yesterday, came as a response to the resigned vice-rector, who claimed that there was no hand-over going on at SZFE, explaining that the university is operating as usual.

According to ÁSZ’s official statement, the body had reviewed SZFE’s (and all state-maintained higher education institutions) management between 2009 and 2013 back in 2014-2015. SZFE’s establishment and operation of the internal control system, (which provides protection against corruption and irregularities) however, didn’t comply with the legal requirements. It revealed a number of irregularities in SZFE’s financial and asset management too.

As a consequence, ÁSZ made 11 recommendations, based on which SZFE’s management put together an action plan with 38 tasks to perform. But according to a follow-up audit in February 2018, it only carried out four of the tasks on time. According to ÁSZ’s communique, the system developed at SZFE still didn’t support the regular, transparent, and accountable use of public funds.

These uncovered risks and the “irresponsible management behavior” justified another audit that was eventually concluded in May 2019. It found that SZFE’s internal control system had yet to provide the conditions for a transparent, regular, and responsible management of public funds. An integrity control system to protect against the risk of corruption has still not been put in operation. The protection of state property was not secured and its accounting wasn’t transparent, the communique says.

As a result, ÁSZ claimed, in order to ensure the proper use of public funds and to protect public assets, outsourcing of SZFE’s public tasks within alternative organizational frameworks may be justified.

SZFE’s outgoing leadership: State Audit Office’s communique part of smear campaign by gov’t

In a recently issued statement, the university’s outgoing leadership suggests that ÁSZ’s communique is part of a political smear campaign and has been made following a governmental order.

They insist that on their part, the model change has been prepared even amid a very tight schedule and the transfer is pending due to the National Asset Management (MNV). They also criticize ÁSZ for not being aware of the operation of universities, claiming that it is the chancellor who is responsible for the hand-over, instead of the outgoing leadership.

Fact

The State Audit Office (ÁSZ) has long been under criticism for allegedly taking up a political role and playing according to the Fidesz-led government’s interests. For example, the office handed out huge fines for the opposition parties around the elections, while the governing parties remained unsanctioned. In addition, ÁSZ’s leader László Domokos is a former Fidesz member. According to the ÁSZ law, the body can’t be sued legally for slander or defamation.

In addition, in reference to the aforementioned findings of audits, they claim that during and around the investigations, ÁSZ didn’t disclose any single factual findings, which would have substantiated even an infringement procedure. Instead, it only lacked unrealistic regulations, documentations, and process descriptions, that must only be prepared by state institutions.

If, contrary to all this ÁSZ is still right, the statement says, it is the Ministry of Human Capacities and Ministry for Innovation and Technology (the maintainers on the state’s part) that should have intervened in the last few years.

featured image Márton Mónus/MTI