State Opera House misused public funds from 2007-10 – leaked report

The State Opera House wasted HUF 167.5 million in dubious contractual payments from 2007-10, while millions more remain missing, a review by the Government Supervisory Office (Kehi) found.

According to the document, the  cultural institution had an annual budget of around HUF 7 billion – 72% of that from state funding – but the management consistently failed to hit budget and develop proper payback plans for the shows.

The Kehi also investigated the cost of contracts related to the annual prestige event the Opera Ball. Despite dubious contracts related to the organisation of the event and the purchasing of stage sets, the Kehi stressed that holding the Opera Ball had been justifiable since, for instance, in 2009 it produced a net turnover of HUF 35 million. The event, which became a target for anti-corruption protestors in its latter years, hasn’t been held since 2010.

Outsourced legal work that could have been done in-house cost 23.5 million forints, while dubious consultancy, tourism and service contracts all damaged the Opera House’s finances, the Kehi concluded.

Atlatszo.hu received the document after two years of courtroom battles to obtain a  ministerial commissioner’s audit report on the Opera House’s finances. (Hungarian, PDF).

The original Hungarian language article was posted on 14 October 2013. Translated by Áron Halász, edited by Dan Nolan.