Sándor Pintér, Fidesz and BKV

Sándor Pintér was Viktor Orbán's minister of the interior in charge of the police. At the time of his appointment many critics claimed that Pintér as the former chief of the entire Hungarian police force shouldn't be the civilian minister in charge of that same police force. Just as there were critical voices when György Keleti, a former army officer, was made minister of defense in Gyula Horn's government. But Orbán absolutely insisted that it was either Pintér or nobody.

Rumors have swirled around Sándor Pintér ever since his appointment. One rumor claimed that he was among the beneficiaries of a scheme that illegally converted imported fuel oil, dyed red and sold for a low price for heating purposes, to diesel oil with no dye that commanded a much higher price. I wrote about this back in 2007 under the title "Oily business." Rumor also has it that Pintér was appointed minister of the interior in 1998 because he knew too much about the rather suspicious explosions in front of the headquarters of Fidesz and the Smallholders' Party as well as at the houses of József Torgyán, party chief of the Smallholders, and József Szájer, who today is the leader of Fidesz's EP delegation. Suspicion lingers that these "explosions" that did only minor damage were staged by Fidesz in order to turn public opinion against the MSZP-SZDSZ coalition just before the elections.

After Viktor Orbán lost the elections in 2002 Pintér moved into the private sector and established a security firm that, thanks to his extensive connections, did exceedingly well. By now Pintér is a billionaire. His name crops up here and there in the media as the most likely candidate for minister of the interior once again. I might add here that Ferenc Gyurcsány made the mistake of combining the ministry of the interior and the ministry of justice. According to the critics of this move the two functions cannot be combined successfully under one roof, and Fidesz has made no secret of the fact that they want to reestablish a separate ministry of the interior. However, apparently Pintér's appetite for power has grown since 2002; he has demanded the establishment of a "super ministry" that would also be in charge of the secret services.

On March 26 those who predicted that Pintér would be minister again felt justified when the news broke that he had sold his security business, Civic Biztonsági Szolgálat (CBSZ). The buyer was Prostasia Zrt, a company established only a few months ago and headed by Tibor Kántor, second in charge of the Hungarian Internal Revenue Service during the Orbán government. The sale according to rumors was necessary because an agreement was reached between Viktor Orbán and Sándor Pintér concerning the latter's post as the head of the beefed-up super ministry of the interior.

Today Népszava came out with some details that may shed a different light on the sudden sale of a very profitable company. As it turns out, Pintér's company won three very valuable contracts with BKV. Apparently the contracts were supposed to be signed on March 12. Two of these three contracts were won by Pintér's firm without competitive bids. Another interesting aspect of the deal is that Vilmos Tölgyesi, a high official at BKV for thirty-five years and currently working for the company as an independent contractor, was a member of CBSZ's board of directors. Tölgyesi is among those whose contracts and retirement packages are being questioned. And no wonder! When he retired in 2005 he received 25 million forints in addition to other "benefits" and was then immediately rehired as an independent contractor for five years. When his contract was prematurely terminated in December 2007 he received 55.7 million in addition to 13.1 million for keeping BKV's secrets plus 13.3 million because BKV broke the contract.  Six days later he was rehired again at 600,000 per month. More than suspicious, isn't it?

It is very possible that Pintér's sudden decision to "sell" his company might have something to do with the probes being conducted at BKV. Fidesz doesn't like messy situations like that. One ought to recall the very promising female Fidesz candidate who suddenly became "ill" and retired from political activity. As it turned out, her husband's company had had some shady business dealings involving BKV. Of course, this may only be a precautionary move to ensure Pintér's chances for the job of minister of the interior. It all depends on whether more toxic dirt is unearthed.

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I think that combining the two by Ferenc Gyurcsány was not an error. I’m pretty sure that if he could take that back he would have done it all over again, but that’s just my impression of him.