Car dealership of the prime minister’s friend wins another high value public tender
A company of Hungary’s richest man, a childhood friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has won a HUF 1.4 billion contract under a disproportionate scoring system. Because of the disproportionate allocation of points, Lőrinc Mészáros’ company would have won even if it had submitted a much more expensive bid of up to HUF 1.8 billion.
Last September, the state-owned Hungarian Public Road company (Magyar Közút Nonprofit Zrt.) launched a public procurement procedure for the purchase of a fleet of passenger vehicles. The state company needed a total of 102 cars. According to the documents, the call for tenders was open to companies that had at least 75 references for long-term leasing and/or fleet operation of passenger vehicles in recent years and that had paid a HUF 3 million bid security.
The tender results were published in January on ekr.gov.hu. It showed that the well-known players in the market, Porsche Leasing and Services Ltd, Mercarius Fleet Management Ltd and Mészáros M1 Ltd, a company owned by Lőrinc Mészáros, had responded to the call.
Mészáros M1 won with a bid of HUF 1.4 billion, Mercarius submitted a bid of HUF 1.6 billion, while Porsche’s bid was invalid.
However, the Public Road company used such a disproportionate scoring system that Mészáros M1 would have won even if it had bid of up to HUF 1.8 billion.
Another interesting addition is that the Mercarius and Mészáros M1’s offer is identical on two points: the aggregate mixed fuel consumption of cars and the aggregate pollutant emissions. This is possible, for example, if they bid for exactly the same models in all vehicle categories. Of course, this could be because the tenderer specified the vehicles in such a restrictive way that only one type could be offered, but also because the two companies agreed on the bids.
Furthermore, it is not known what Porsche Leasing Ltd offered and why they were excluded from the competition. Despite the fact that the Public Procurement Act requires a detailed justification for the exclusion, the Public Road company did not comply. We have asked the state company for details, but have not yet received a reply.
We have previously examined the tenders won by Mészáros M1 Ltd. and found that the company often wins by the tenderer over-emphasising the extra short delivery times that the company is willing to accept. This gives it an insurmountable advantage over its competitors. It is assumed that it may be able to do this by already having the vehicles sought in the procedure.
Written and translated by Eszter Katus. More detailed Hungarian version of this story can be found here.