public procurement

Prime Minister’s friend’s dealership wins car contracts with suspiciously short deadlines

According to the President of the Public Procurement Authority, there is nothing more transparent than Hungarian public procurement in the EU, and the talk of suspected corruption is just unfounded political hysteria. László Kovács spoke about this after it emerged that some companies had won hundreds of contracts in the city of Győr without competition. After this high-profile case we have analysed the success of Mészáros M1 Autókereskedő Ltd., a car dealership company owned by Lőrinc Mészáros, a good friend of PM Viktor Orbán. With the help of an expert we found out that the company often wins by taking on very short deadlines that even major players cannot match.

A 15-day deadline as opposed to 180 days, the availability of cars that exactly match the tender – these are some of the features that make the Mészáros Lőrinc’s company, Mészáros M1 Autókereskedő Kft., a winner in various car tenders.

Examining the public procurements, we found that the contracting authorities seem to have set the evaluation weighting for the delivery deadline unrealistically high. So in most cases, the most important thing was how quickly the tenderer could deliver the cars, while price was less important.

As a result, the company that offered the shortest delivery time had an almost insurmountable advantage.

And how can a firm meet such a short deadline? The simplest explanation is that, for some reason, the company has exactly the number of vehicles and the specific equipment required by the tender. The other competitors would then have to order these vehicles, so they can only offer a much longer deadline.

In addition to short deadlines, the Mészáros’ company could often be less expensive, although in several cases they later increased the price during the execution of the contract, and there were also cases when they asked for an extension of the delivery deadline.

It is interesting to note that large industrial players such as Mercarius and Porsche have also bid for these public contracts, but they have not been able to be faster or cheaper at the same time.

Written and translated by Eszter Katus. More detailed Hungarian version of this story. Photo: PM Viktor Orban (right) and his friend, Lorinc Meszaros. Credit: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd