The story first broke the news on Thursday, when an article written by Fidesz-linked Index‘s editor-in-chief himself, stated that the Municipality of Budapest, led by Karácsony, wishes to sell City Hall.
Minutes later, Karácsony himself denied the clams and slammed the portal for spreading misinformation.
One day later, however, Index came up with a document. This time, the piece didn’t specifically name the Mayor’s Office as the seller, but it did present a document in which Northern Rock, a company without any employee or revenue, and Beák and partner, a well-known real estate agency, signed a contract with the Mayor’s Office as the broker of the deal.
According to the document, the selling price of City Hall would be roughly EUR 100 million plus VAT, which would then come to around HUF 40 billion (EUR 111 million).
Reacting to the article, Fidesz group leader in Budapest’s municipal assembly, Zsolt Láng, has called on Karácsony to clarify if he was aware of any such talks on the building and whether the mayor would file legal proceedings.
In further reaction, Karácsony lambasted the site once again, consistently denying the claims. “Apparently Index continues to spread fake news, again defying press etiquette without waiting for a response from the Budapest Municipality. The Municipality of Budapest doesn’t use a real estate agent for the sale of real estate, it is exclusively managed by its own fully-owned trustee. It is pathetic how the editor-in-chief of Index, a scrap paper of a company undergoing a forced wipeout, claims anything about the Municipality of Budapest without any factual basis.”
Karácsony additionally announced to launch a legal procedure into the case to find out whether anyone “has falsely given the impression that City Hall might be sold.”
In addition to potential criminal prosecution, an internal inquiry might similarly follow these latest developments, according to 7th district’s DK mayor, Péter Niedermüller.
Telex‘s investigation, meanwhile, also seems to confirm Karácsony’s version. The independent, government-critical news portal managed to reach Attila Beák, leader of the aforementioned real estate agency, who made it clear that they hadn’t received any order from the Budapest Mayor’s Office. In addition, none of City Hall’s employees confirmed any such bid or interest, while noting that the capital indeed has its own asset manager to manage these kind of deals, instead of a third-party company.