Gergely Karacsony, the mayor of Budapest, addressed a written reprimand to Balazs J. Barts, managing director of the Budapest Capital City Property Management Center (BVFK), in connection with reports of a possible sale of the town hall .
Karacsony said Barts was wrong to discuss with real estate investors a preparatory study that presented possible long-term scenarios for the sale of the town hall after 2030 because these were rejected by the cabinet of the mayor. Karacsony has made it clear that he does not want to sell the town hall, according to a statement released by the mayor’s office on Friday.
The statement said Barts’ duties include receiving inquiries from real estate investors and assessing investor intentions. Meeting such people and briefing them was part of the job, he added. But he made a serious mistake by presenting an old study related to the City Hall property that was no longer relevant, having been rejected by the Karacsony administration.
In addition, he should not have expressed informally his personal opinion which could have cast doubt on the decision of the municipal administration, according to the statement. As a civil servant, he should not express his personal opinions on such a sensitive issue, he added.
At the same time, Barts, who was appointed by former mayor Istvan Tarlos in 2014, was also performing his duties satisfactorily, the statement said.
Barts, he added, had not been bribed and had spearheaded the introduction of an anonymous electronic auction system as well as a unified municipal real estate database. He also helped to maximize the value of municipal properties by carrying out preparatory work for development on various land owned by the Budapest City Hall, and opened up opportunities for urban development, he added.
Barts, however, is now prohibited from communicating with external parties in his official capacity regarding the town hall site, the statement said.
Meanwhile, Fidesz lawmaker Gyula Budai said on Friday he had filed a complaint with the police over the sale of property in the capital and the suspicion of influence peddling as reported in press reports covering the history of the town hall. The complaint relates to reports of a secret recording of two men discussing the purchase of land in the 12th district, which was purchased by Grebics Ingatlan for 101 million forints from the Budapest Metropolitan Council.