Shady Deals at OKFŐ: Will Clarification Finally Follow Purge?

A peculiar purge has taken place in the past few days at the National Directorate General of Hospitals (OKFŐ), with Fidesz’s Prime Minister first dismissing Director General Zoltán Jenei, and then shortly afterwards the Deputy Director General for Finance and also for Information. In the wake of these decisions, and the government’s usual silence, the specialist press suspects that the record hospital debt and the related management problems, which have already caused discomfort for the Fidesz government, may be the main reasons behind the decisions.
It was indeed shocking news recently that the debt of hospitals has increased to an unprecedented level, exceeding HUF 125 billion at the end of October this year, which is simply unprecedented. This, clearly, is now also a threat to patient safety, not to mention the sheer immorality and unreliability that the state, and more specifically the government responsible, is demonstrating in this matter. The Orbán government, with a two-thirds majority and a government by decree, does or could do whatever it wants; it could, for example, increase the funding of the Hungarian health system, which is at a record low in Europe. That is, if they really cared about Hungarian healthcare, which they do not. It is a cheap but perfectly legitimate analogy that, while public money is being spent on buying up mobile phone companies, an airport and stuffing pro-Fidesz businesses, companies that supply hospitals with life-saving and health-improving equipment are simply not being paid. It is a disgraceful, shameful, unacceptable practice, and has been for years.
According to the specialist press, the soaring debt is partly related to the restructuring of hospital property management, or more precisely to the decentralization of the hospital, which will be completed by the end of the year, and the government has found the „political” culprit for this shameful result in Zoltán Jenei. But they have always been good at finding scapegoats. The Director-General’s character is interesting not only because he has had a rather broad range and enviable career spanning political currents (former Deputy State Secretary for the Interior, Chief Economic Director of the the National Police Headquarters ORFK, but also Chancellor of the University of Pécs), but also because Jenei was appointed head of the OKFŐ by the then Minister in charge, Miklós Kásler, at the very time when the state’s leading organisation was concluding the most sinister contracts, which are still ambiguous, in connection with the defence against the covid epidemic. Important: I am not claiming that Zoltán Jenei was put in charge of the OKFŐ at the time to allow these shady deals to take place, or that he had prior knowledge of any suspicions of deliberate misconduct; it is more likely that the NER’s profiteering arm, which was imposed on the professional institution as per known practice, forced through the orders. The fact is, however, that these are strange coincidences in time, and that the now outgoing Director-General, despite all the public interest initiatives taken in the past, let us say diplomatically, has not sought to account transparently for these contracts, which are strongly suspected of corruption, even if he had nothing to do with them.
Just a quick reminder: during the covid outbreak in November 2020, the OKFŐ signed several high-value contracts with certain companies for the procurement of rapid antigen tests. At that time alone, a total of around five billion (!) forints of public money was spent through the OKFŐ, and one of the five contracts signed with three different companies is particularly striking. A consultancy firm called Minerva, which had been established just a few months earlier, was awarded a contract by the OKFŐ for the purchase of antigen tests for around three billion (!) forints. Nothing is known about the circumstances of the conclusion of the contract, the reasons for the selection of the company, the details and the implementation of the contract, except that it was successfully concluded and the money was paid. The OKFŐ’s website, with its peculiar transparency, also only tells us that the contract with Minerva was concluded five days after Zoltan Jenei was appointed.
It is important to reiterate: I do not assume a direct link between the two, but it is a fact that after his appointment the Director-General was already responsible for this contract, which was of a huge amount, so he should have at least been transparent about the details of the contract after the suspicious details became public; or at least he should have tried to be. I myself have asked the OKFŐ for this on several occasions, but the answer has always been a rebuff, although there is a lot left to explain. The founder and owner of Minerva Consulting Ltd., which was founded just a few months before the conclusion of the contract in question, was Dániel Martos, who for years was a leader of Fidelitas in Ferencváros and then (in the „territory” of the current Fidesz parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis) of the local Fidesz; he even worked as the personal secretary of a former Fidesz vice-president. (After all this, one may legitimately ask what Fidesz top leadership had to do with this multi-billion business!)
Investigative journalists have also uncovered that the company in question changed hands soon after the contract was completed, and the business was now in the hands of a twenty-something year-old frontman living in a rural village in Borsod County, from which hundreds of millions in dividends have since been paid out. I’m not saying that this is outright corruption itself, but I think the example in the
criminal law textbooks might be something very similar. At a bare minimum it stinks. Big time. But if it stinks, then it is in everyone’s interest – first and foremost for the contractor, but also for the Fidesz leadership, which is intertwined with the profiteering company manager by a thousand threads – to finally clarify, with complete transparency: why this company was chosen for the three billion euro contract, why at that particular time and for what reasons. As every single request for information of public interest I have made in this connection has so far been pushed aside by the state institution with
legal wriggle-work and non-disclosure, I am now resubmitting my request in this connection, in the hope that the new management will show new practice in this respect too. It is time to come clean on this matter and not just purge and look for scapegoats.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
Founder of the Community of Chance

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