Orbán’s clan is plundering the state coffers: The world is taking notice

The talk in Hungary is about corruption. Corruption that seems to consume every nook and cranny of political life. It is an open secret that one of the main aims of Viktor Orbán, in addition to making sure that he will be the prime minister of Hungary for a very long time, is the enrichment of his friends and family. Thanks to the work of some investigative journalists, like Krisztina Ferenczi and Attila Mong, more and more evidence is surfacing that Viktor Orbán is feathering his and his friends’ nests.

Orbán is not like Viktor Yanukovycz, who lived lavishly in tasteless gilded palaces. Considering his estimated wealth, Orbán and his family live modestly. They have a comfortable but unpretentious house in one of the more elegant parts of Buda and an outright humble-looking house, designed in the style of the adobe peasant houses of yore, in Felcsút. The family’s landholdings are something else. Year after year Orbán’s wife, Anikó Lévai, added cheaply acquired lands in and around Felcsút where Viktor’s family spent some time when he was a young child. Moreover, almost everybody is convinced that the Orbán family’s landholdings are much more extensive than official documents attest to. The rest, perhaps thousands of acres, is held under the names of front men.

Viktor Orbán's country home in style of old adobe peasant houses

Viktor Orbán’s country house

For some time Hungary has been brimming with anecdotes and speculation about the Orbáns and their friends, but the charge of wholesale stealing from the national wealth could not be contained within the borders for long. Only two days ago an article appeared in one of the most influential German papers, Der Spiegel, with the title: “Orbán’s clan plunders the state coffers.” As Krisztina Ferenczi told the author of the article, Keno Verseck, “Hungary has become in recent years a kind of large estate” and the lord of the  manor is Viktor Orbán himself.

One reason for the disguised land ownership, assuming the charge is true, besides the obvious one of undeclared wealth without any legitimate means of accumulating it, is that the landholdings are heavily subsidized by the European Union even if they are left fallow. Surely, it would look bad if the European Union were paying millions for the lands of the Hungarian prime minister. There are several indications that Orbán has two front men in Felcsút, Lőrinc Mészáros and János Flier. Both by now have thousands of acres they received fraudulently from the state on twenty-year leases. Neither has any experience in agriculture. Flier used to be an electrician and Mészáros had a small business bringing gas pipes to the inhabitants of the village a few years back. Now they are in charge of large farms.

Viktor Orbán is as upstanding in politics as he is in his financial dealings. The electoral law and its execution are based on fraud. Since he has a pathological need for power, he will never allow a reprise of 2002 and 2006 when he lost the elections. This time he is covering all his bases. We talked a lot about the coming elections and concluded that the final results would be questionable, but I still suggest taking a look at some of the comments on the topic by readers of Hungarian Spectrum. Unfortunately, since the Orbán government is in charge of the mechanics of the election we will never be able to prove fraud, however obvious it might be in places.

Orbán is a role model for Fidesz officials, and part and parcel of that model is his outsize accumulation of wealth. The latest official to come under scrutiny for unexplained affluence is Antal Rogán.

Rogán belongs to the younger generation of Fidesz officials. He had just finished high school at the time of the regime change. In college he majored in economics and soon after graduation was heavily involved in Fidesz politics. By the age of 26 he became a member of parliament and three years later one of the deputies of Viktor Orbán. Currently, he is the leader of the large Fidesz parliamentary caucus.

It seems that Antal Rogán was equally successful when it came to enriching himself. We don’t know how, but Rogán, his wife, and two young children live like nabobs in “Pasa Park.” This gated community is in a part of Buda called Pasarét (Meadow of Pasha), hence the name of the building in which many top Fidesz officials live, including Mihály Varga, minister of national economy. The Rogáns have two and a half apartments worth about 300 million forints. People who are investigating the case claim that Rogán’s total career earnings so far amount to no more than 16 million forints. His wife doesn’t work. His current salary is 1.3 million forints a month, but his expenses far exceed his income. He is still paying about half a million forints a month on his 60 million forint mortgage, he has to pay 300,000 a  month for maintenance, he pays 250,000 to lease an Audi 6, and the two small boys go to a private kindergarten for 300,000 a month. And presumably the family doesn’t starve.

Rogán got into trouble because he did exactly the same thing as  Gábor Simon (MSZP): he didn’t tell the whole truth about his wealth on the financial statement he has to provide to parliament. But while Simon is in jail, Rogán only had to “correct” his financial statement. He may have to keep making corrections as new pieces of information surface. It seems he owns property that he inherited from his grandmother and father in his hometown as well as a country house in Balatonlelle.

Given the way Orbán’s “justice” works, we can be assured that nothing will happen even if the accusations turn out to be correct in every detail. Nothing will happen not only because investigation and punishment depend on the ruling Fidesz party but also because all Hungarian politicians made sure that these financial statements are not worth the paper they’re written on. If, for example in this case, Rogán says that the money for the real estate and the lavish lifestyle comes from loans extended by family and friends, the authorities will be satisfied. He will not have to give any proof of actual transactions. Knowing the high moral fiber of Hungarians, I’m sure there would be plenty of people who would gladly swear that they were the ones who extended the money to Rogán.

That’s how things are in Hungary. It’s no wonder that people are not outraged about the rumors of electoral fraud or the plundering of the state coffers. They are accustomed to corruption and think it best to remain silent. They cannot do anything about it in any case.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 5:33 pm

Election.

Oops, something is going on…

The detailed statistics that showed the distribution of the 91,204 “cross voters” during the day, disappeared at 11 PM on April 3, 2014 and filled with zeros.

http://www.nvi.hu/dyn/pv14/vertaj/hu/igstat.html

Earlier today, the link to the number of eligible domestic voters was erased at the official webpage of the Election Office NVI.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 5:37 pm

Oh no, it was just being updated.

The new number of “cross voters” is a record 105,126.

The final number was just over 57,566 in 2010.

HiBoM
Guest
HiBoM
April 3, 2014 5:45 pm

Back in 1998, an interpreter friend of mine rang excitedly with an extraordinary story. Orbán had just become prime minister and he happened to have a huge flat somewhere near Váci Utca (which he sold when building his present Buda palace). My friend’s classmate from interpreting school had been summoned to negotiate a rental deal with some Germans for Orbán’s flat. And the extraordinary thing was this: Orbán himself, the new Prime Minister of Hungary, turned up in person, to negotiate a (wait for it!) cash in hand deal with his prospective Germans speaking tenants. That tells you everything you need to know about his priorities.

The level of corruption in Hungarian political life has not changed enormously at any point in the last 20 years, merely the beneficiaries. But what he can do that previous governments could not, is simply change laws to exempt businesses from tax (some casino concessions near the Austria border for example) which are now Fidesz owned.

Istvan
Guest
Istvan
April 3, 2014 5:48 pm

I really liked the photo of Orban with Silvio Berlusconi that was part of the DER SPIEGEL article. The perfect pair!

Angela Bogazcy
Guest
Angela Bogazcy
April 3, 2014 5:49 pm

But to address the theme of this thread: ‘One reason for the disguised land ownership, assuming the charge is true, besides the obvious one of undeclared wealth …’

There has been no charge, neither for ‘disguised land ownership’, nor for ‘undeclared wealth’. These charges attach to big-boy of the ‘Left’, Simon Gabor. How about a touch of honesty on this blog? It would be a pleasant change. My goodness the Galamus group is bereft of ground!

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 5:58 pm

The notification address of the 40,292 mailed-in votes from people with no Hungarian address that were deemed valid so far:

Romania 44.06%
e-Landia 31.25%
Serbia 17.91%
All other countries: 6.78%

There were
82 valid votes from people with no “identifiable” notification address,
14 with a fax number only,
12,592 with an e-mail address only, and
459 voters gave a Hungarian notification address, although they are not supposed to have a Hungarian address.

http://www.nvi.hu/hu/ogyv2014/853/853_0.html

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 6:05 pm

Closing of the consulates or embassies tomorrow for the dropped-off votes:

4 PM: Kosice, Bratislava, Belgrade, Osijek
5 PM: Subotica
6 PM: Bucharest
7 PM: Cluj
9 PM: Berehove, Uzhhorod, Miercurea Ciuc

Ron
Guest
Ron
April 3, 2014 6:05 pm

About Rogan Antal I am actually surprised that he is not living in the 5th district (the district he is Mayor) and the same for Mihaly Varga (I expect him to life in the 3rd district). Both gentlemen were involved with election openings, visits, promises in the 5th and 3rd district respectively and not in the 2nd district (1022 Budapest Hankóczy u. 4-6. http://www.pasapark.hu).

And as to RA I expected him to have a second house in Romania (considering the campaigning he is doing there) and not Balatonlelle.

Member
April 3, 2014 6:07 pm
Angela Bogazcy : But to address the theme of this thread: ‘One reason for the disguised land ownership, assuming the charge is true, besides the obvious one of undeclared wealth …’ There has been no charge, neither for ‘disguised land ownership’, nor for ‘undeclared wealth’. These charges attach to big-boy of the ‘Left’, Simon Gabor. How about a touch of honesty on this blog? It would be a pleasant change. My goodness the Galamus group is bereft of ground! It is hard to follow what you saying. SLow down. You are going to get a hart attach. THere will be no charge if Fidesz stays at power, Angela. . You know why? Because Rogan is the Fidesz. When the opposition comes to power there will be interesting things unfolding. I must assume that if what Rogan does not disturb you, you have similar transactions in place, so no kidding you are scared of the truth. How about the the two people who came forward to tell about how the tax authorities are enriching the higher class tied to Fidesz? Can you tell us what happened to them? Enlighten our readers. Simon does not run the country any longer, but Rogan… Read more »
tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 6:11 pm

But there are 98 places inside Hungary where one can drop off these votes on election day until 7 PM.

http://www.nvi.hu/hu/download/681/oevi-cim.xls

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 6:12 pm

Eva S. Balogh :

Ron :
About Rogan Antal I am actually surprised that he is not living in the 5th district (the district he is Mayor) and the same for Mihaly Varga (I expect him to life in the 3rd district). Both gentlemen were involved with election openings, visits, promises in the 5th and 3rd district respectively and not in the 2nd district (1022 Budapest Hankóczy u. 4-6. http://www.pasapark.hu).

Oops! No more http://www.pasapark.hu. Isn’t it interesting?

http://adatlap.ingatlanonki.hu/9342/11DA

sad, really
Guest
sad, really
April 3, 2014 6:17 pm
Sorry but I have to say this It is sad that the faithful followers of Gyurcsany and MSZP hardcore base feel the need to try to use these last minute election smears in hopes they gain a +1%. They hope that if they sling some mud they can escape the “totally corrupt” view that a large section of the population assigned to them after it was revealed that the MSZP vice chairman had secret bank accounts in five cities and fake passport from Bissau-Guinea. The sad reality of it is, if all their smears, libel lies and mud slinging succeed in convincing anyone not to vote for Fidesz they will not vote for the ultra-corrupt MSZP, they will vote for Jobbik. Jobbik is the party that has literally zero corruption cases to speak of so the above article can be considered a Jobbik propaganda leaflet even if it was not intended that way. And now some additions: “This gated community” It is not a gated community, which do not exist in Hungary by the way, that is a US term completely not applicable to this. It is an apartment complex. “The Rogáns have two and a half apartments worth about… Read more »
tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 6:31 pm

THe good people at 444.hu tried to balance Rogan’s accounting books year by year.
They do not add up.

http://444.hu/2014/04/03/megtalaltuk-toni-haztartasi-fuzetet/

Member
April 3, 2014 6:47 pm

LOOKING IN THE MUD-SMEARED MIRROR

A Fidesz troll hiding under the false name of sad, really :

has charged the supporters of the democratic opposition with “mud-slinging” for an extra +1% of the vote.

If the posters to the Hungarian Spectrum had the misfortune to live in Hungary, this valiant troll’s handlers would no doubt adjust the laws so as to be able to throw them in jail, as they’ve tried to do with everyone else, and meanwhile they would make sure the Fidesz press (i.e. virtually all of it) covered them them unrecognizably with the mud that has become Fidesz’s signature element. (The white-washing of Jobbik was a new one — I guess just for nameless Fidesz trolls, while Fidesz feigns abhorrence…)

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 3, 2014 7:17 pm

Guardian reports straight from Felcsút, home of Sauron’s Castle.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/03/hungary-election-viktor-orban-fidesz-party

Member
April 3, 2014 8:07 pm
It does not matter what Simon did or not do. He has no bearing on what Fidesz does today. Get away from the distraction Fidesz tries to do every so often since Orban made look like fool by Gyurcsany in their debate way back. Orban still cannot get over it and he is afraid to even get into a debate now. His only way to distract people from his “tricks” is dragging everyone through the mud who is in his way. Each and every charge Orban is trying to bring on fails. Whatever if Simon is a crook. Be it. WHat are Orban, and his buddies? What are they doing today? How did they robbed people off from their private retirement savings? How did they managed to give out the lands, the tobacco shops and so forth? If Simon did not (supposedly) steel this money, would the tobacco shops would be with the people who deserve it, would the lands would be given back to real farmers (as it is now held by bureaucrats, who does not even pulled a single carrot out of the soil in their lives), would the tax office finally investigate, would the education suddenly become… Read more »
Bowen
Guest
Bowen
April 4, 2014 1:31 am
Member
April 4, 2014 2:03 am

sad, really :
Sorry but I have to say this

and the answer for you is all here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/03/hungary-election-viktor-orban-fidesz-party

Guest
April 4, 2014 2:29 am

These reports in the Spiegel, the Guardian and now even the NYT prove that there is an international conspiracy by the usual suspects against His Excellency Viktor Orbán, the charismatic and respected Prime Minister of Hungary …

Irony modus off …

PS: This text is almost verbatim from some comment on pol.hu …

pedro
Guest
pedro
April 4, 2014 3:31 am
Eva S. Balogh : I don’t think that “sad” is really terribly sad for me, but let me just say that I–and I’m not alone–don’t believe one word about Simon’s Guineau-Bissau passport. A very smart person, a lawyer who often phones György Bolgár on Klubrádió, said today in his program that in retrospect we all knew that the show trials of the Rákosi period couldn’t have been possibly true because the charges were so outlandish. It is the same thing with this passport story. What did Simon need this passport for? Up to now the only thing we know about the passport is that Welsz had it in his safe and he went and opened a bank account either with it or without it in the name of Gabriel Derdák (or something like that) which is Simon’s mother’s maiden name. That’s all. But if that is enough for our sad fellow I am just astonished at either of his naivety or, I’m sorry to say, of his stupidity. MSZP is full of these naive and, sorry, stupid people. I mean one has to be a total idiot to be even on speaking terms with a person like Welsz. He was… Read more »
Guest
April 4, 2014 3:43 am

Yes, it’s interesting in a way that Simon has said nothing since being taken in by police – or did I miss something?

Has there been any statement by him, his lawyer (I presume he’s got one?) or the authorities which must surely have asked him some questions.

Also the statements by the banks involved with Welsz, are there any detailed reports on them?

And what about Welsz’s girlfriend?

PS: There may be some things in Hungarian, but these are too difficult to find and read for me (blush …) and my wife won’t look at that! She’s totally fed up with Hungarian politics, she’ll vote LMP even if it may mean her vote is lost …

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 4, 2014 4:09 am

@wolfi

His lawyer spoke yesterday:

http://www.atv.hu/videok/video-20140403-nagy-istvan

In essence:
People are not put in pre-trial detention for tax evasion.

Simon’s arrest and detention for passport forgery is unlawful,
he had nothing to do with fake passports,

The maker of the alleged passport, Welsz is dead. How can the prosecutors claim
that the alleged passport was fake if it is nowhere to be found?

Guest
April 4, 2014 4:50 am

A. L. B. (we know who that is …) has joined the other critics in the ECONOMIST’s blog:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/04/economist-explains-0

“HUNGARY goes to the polls on April 6th and Viktor Orban, the pugnacious prime minister, looks set to coast to victory. Few political leaders arouse such furious passions as Mr Orban. Possessed of messianic self-belief, he enjoys an almost cult-like devotion from his supporters. They regard him as a national saviour who has rescued Hungary from the stranglehold of the European Union, the IMF, rapacious multinationals, greedy banks and urban liberals who would sell the country to foreigners. Mr Orban’s opponents regard him as a ruthless control freak and autocrat in the making. Who is right?”

Istvan
Guest
Istvan
April 4, 2014 6:36 am
As an American who who has been coming to Hungary since I was a child I have to say there is some denial in the dialog on the level of corruption in Hungary that crosses party boundaries. I know it existed under the Kadar regime too because I saw it. Here in Chicago we sort of treasure our political corruption as part of our heritage and treat various politicians who are being escorted off to prison as media stars, until they are locked up and then we go on to the next character. We rarely blame the other party for setting up a politician because we assume the corruption exists everywhere. The level of corruption in Hungary or for that matter here in Chicago is nothing in comparison to what I witnessed in the Republic of Vietnam before it fell in the 1970s or what returning US combat veterans tell me about Afghanistan. Under development breads corruption whether it is in urban America or Hungary. Orban given his power has shown great restraint in blatant displays of wealth, but there is probably little doubt he and his family are incredibly wealthy by Hungarian standards. I suspect that most Hungarians believe… Read more »
tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 4, 2014 6:41 am

New numbers about the the mailed-in/dropped-off votes from Transylvania, Serbia and e-Landia:

Votes received: 122,640
processed: 73,453
accepted as valid: 58,695

valid votes

Romania: 46.0%
e-Landia: 28.0%
Serbia: 15.3%
other places: 10.7%

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 4, 2014 6:54 am

valid votes as % of processed votes

March 31: 75.5%
April 01: no processing
April 02: 81.0%
April 03: 80.4%
APril 04: 80.7%

wpDiscuz