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Tensions Escalate Between the State Audit Office and the Hungarian National Bank

A report in the making by the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) is poised to provide ammunition for the government in its efforts to regain control over the Hungarian National Bank (MNB).
The State Audit Office has formulated an unusually sharp critique of the national bank's operations, opening a new front in the ongoing dispute between the government and the national bank. Meanwhile, the MNB has quietly conceded in a few issues.

In November 2023, the State Audit Office reached out to the Hungarian National Bank through a letter addressed to György Matolcsy, the governor of the bank. The letter was a request for action concerning an ongoing investigation aimed at examining the regulatory compliance of the national bank's operations. As revealed by the letter, the auditors had significant objections to transactions conducted under the umbrella of the national bank that were not closely related to its core activities, hvg360 learned.

The inquiries and requests were related to the renovation of the MNB's headquarters at Szabadság Square, which the national bank had entrusted to its own enterprise, MNB-Ingatlan Kft.

A so-called attention-calling letter obtained by hvg360 indicates that the auditors found the limited supervisory powers of the MNB over the renovation troubling. They also warned that the renovation costs could significantly overrun.

This investigation, and its direction, aligns with the governmental proposal to amend the national bank law, aiming to expand the supervisory powers of the bank's supervisory board. This issue marks a critical point in the ongoing debate over the control and oversight of Hungary's central banking activities, signaling potential changes in the relationship between the government and the Hungarian National Bank.
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