Most likely he is known (or unknown) to the rest of the world as Ibrahim Kaya, but in Hungary he became infamous as Kaya Ibrahim. I was astonished to see the name again. A very brief background. In 1998, shortly after Orbán became prime minister, Népszabadság published a story about a rather suspicious transaction dating back to July 1995. A lawyer, Csaba Schlecht, in the name of his clients, sold twelve companies to a certain Kaya Ibrahim, a Turk living in Germany. It was a speedy transaction. In the presence of a public notary all twelve companies changed hands in a single day. (The European public notary's position is much more important than here. They can handle certain cases as if they were lawyers. For example, while here a lawyer has to be hired at the time of a real estate transaction, in Hungary a public notary will do.) Kaya Ibrahim himself wasn't present. Schlecht proved his existence by showing an alleged copy of his passport. Somebody, perhaps Schlecht or a friend of his, forged Kaya Ibrahim's signature on the sales contracts. The twelve companies owed about 400 million forints to the Hungarian Internal Revenue Service in the form of VAT and payroll taxes. But these companies were allegedly bankrupt. Perhaps the Hungarian tax collectors could have found the new owner and probed a little more deeply into the duds he bought if he had been a Hungarian. But it's much more difficult to go after a foreigner, especially an obscure foreigner.
Why was this case so interesting? Because the owners were very well known men. Let's go through the list briefly. Centum Kft.: (László Kövér, Viktor Orbán, István Stumpf, Tamás Varga); Foliograph Bt.: (Csaba Schlecht, Tamás Varga, Szilárd Kövér, Lajos Simicska, Viktor Orbán, László Kövér); Matt Bt.: (Szilárd Kövér, Tamás Varga); Creato Kft.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Szilárd Kövér); Bonusz Bt.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga); Menüett Kft.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Csaba Schlecht, Szilárd Kövér); Joys Kft.: (Csaba Schlecht); Padrone Kft.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Csaba Shlecht, Szilárd Kövér); Draft Kft.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Csaba Schlecht, Szilárd Kövér); Prompt Profit Kft.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Csaba Schlecht, Szilárd Kövér); Quality Invest Rt.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Szilárd Kövér); and Quality Profit Kft.: (Lajos Simicska, Tamás Varga, Szilárd Kövér).
I assume most readers are familiar with names of Viktor Orbán, László Kövér, and István Stumpf. In the Orbán government they were the prime minister, the minister in charge of national security, and minister heading the prime minister's office. Lately we haven't heard much about Lajos Simicska, though earlier he had his share of headlines. He went to the same high school as Viktor Orbán and handled Fidesz's financial affairs. After Orbán became prime minister Simicska was appointed head of the Hungarian tax office. The right man for the job. Tamás Varga, also a former schoolmate of Orbán from high school days, was a real crook who embezzled millions and escaped from Hungary. Eventually he was found hiding in the Netherlands. The Hungarian police brought him back to Hungary where he spent some time in jail, authorities fearing his escape. I've lost track of the status of his case. Szilárd Kövér is the brother of László Kövér who is allegedly the éminence grise behind Viktor Orbán. Csaba Schlecht was the lawyer and part owner of many of the companies destined for oblivion.
After Népszabadság came out with this story there was an investigation but considering that Viktor Orbán was the prime minister not much happened. The police were clearly dragging their feet. I remember one really laughable Keystone Kops episode when the police announced that they couldn't find Csaba Schlecht. Apparently he was in the telephone book and his listed address was correct. Or they claimed that Germany was silent about the whereabouts of Kaya Ibrahim for two years. In any event, the case was three years old when, on September 11, 2001, the chief prosecutor, a former Fidesz member of parliament and an old friend of Orbán and Kövér from law school, announced that the investigation was closed. Polt timed his announcement well. On 9/11. People were preoccupied with other matters.
But this story refuses to die. László Juszt, a TV reporter and investigative journalist, managed to find Kaya Ibrahim in Germany and interviewed the jolly looking Turkish truck driver. Last night in his weekly program called "The Television Lawyer" he aired the interview. Kaya Ibrahim didn't even know that he was one of the most wanted men in Hungary. He is living peacefully in Stuttgart. He told Juszt that he never owned any business in Hungary. Once he tried to start a business of his own in Germany, a messenger service, but it went bankrupt.
Kaya Ibrahim does, however, have a Hungarian friend, József Weisz. Weisz was approached by a man who called himself Zsolt Tasnádi. Tasnádi was looking for six people whose names could be used in a transaction similar to the ones featuring Kaya Ibrahim as the alleged buyer. Tasnádi offered ten thousand German marks per company. Weisz faxed copies of six passports, but a few weeks later he was told that after all there was no need for the six names and therefore Weisz didn't get the promised money. Or at least this is what he claims now. Tasnádi later approached Weisz again and this time he offered fifty thousand marks, adding that the people who need this passport are very powerful and it is not a good idea to play games. Weisz faxed Kaya Ibrahim's passport, but it is not clear from the article I read whether he or Kaya Ibrahim ever received the promised money.
This evening I listened to Zoltán Szabó, an MSZP parliamentary member who is only too happy to reopen the case. Whether he will get anywhere after so many years I doubt. However, I learned from him that the existence of these twelve companies which surely have something to do with Fidesz one way or the other is only the tip of the iceberg. According to Szabó, Fidesz bigwigs owned close to one hundred alleged companies. He would like to know what these companies did and what happened to them. In my opinion, he suspects money laundering. So do I.