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TOP COURT REJECTS JOBBIK'S MOTION OVER AUDIT OFFICE FINE

 

Hungary’s Constitutional Court rejected a motion filed by opposition nationalist Jobbik challenging the constitutionality of the law on the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) and two court decisions rejecting appeals over fines levied on Jobbik for breaking party financing rules. In December of 2017, ÁSZ issued a report indicating that Jobbik would have to pay a 660 million forint (EUR 2m) fine for alleged party financing violations. Earlier in the year, the party had run an anti-government poster campaign. The audit office conducted a financial investigation of the campaign, determining that Jobbik had received a sweetheart deal worth some 330 million forints in violation of the rules in force. It ordered the party to pay a penalty of double that amount.

Jobbik challenged the fine in court, but its appeals were rejected, with the courts saying the matter did not fall under their jurisdiction. The party then turned to the Constitutional Court citing a violation of its constitutional right to due process and legal remedy.

In its Thursday decision the Constitutional Court said that though ÁSZ did not have statutory authority or the authority to impose sanctions and though its 2017 report was not an authoritative one, it could still be challenged in court indirectly. The court argued that it was the Hungarian State Treasury that had the authority to decide on reducing state funding for a party penalised by ASZ and those decisions could be subject to legal remedy. The top court added, however, that in the case in question, Jobbik had launched its public administration lawsuit against ÁSZ and not the State Treasury. Therefore the court rejected both the party’s request for the annulment of a provision in the law on the audit office and its appeal seeking the annulment and challenging the constitutionality of the court decisions concerning the ÁSZ fine.