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.

85 comments

  1. that’s fine, Eva. This is your blog, so you have every right to reserve the privilege of making ad hominem comments for yourself, and for your ‘respected members’. Anyway, I’m bored of the rampant lies here.

    Oopps…sorry,

    But before you go…..you never ever made any comment with any content at all. How much are you paid Leto/Fidesz troll?

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  2. Wow!

    been out for a walk and some work in the garden and what do I find?

    “brainwashing ” of course did not comment on my suspicion that Simon’s ways (like poor deceased Welsz’) were “discovered” very conveniently just before the elections …

    Thanks everybody else for clearing up what really goes on in Whorbanistan – these guys like Rogan (Lazar seems to be similar) are typical mafiosi!

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  3. qaz: “re: Angela and literal blah blah

    Syntax and language point to native English speakers. Not the usual Hunglish of other astroturfers trolling this blog.”

    In a way this is reassuring. So outsiders can find ways into the twisted “Hungarian logic”, hence there should be a way out for Hungarians also. Sometimes I doubt that our trolls can tell black from white, but this now gives me hope.

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  4. @Kommentelo:

    How should I know? There has not been much real info, neither from the authorities nor from him or his lawyer – the story is almost unbelievable – and the main witness is dead.

    I just find it very, very suspicious – especially the Welsz case! Waiting until just before the elections and then …

    After all those accusations from Fidesz against figures in the opposition, where often nothing came out I can’t believe anything.

    The communists had their “Schauprozesse” (remember “A tanu”?) but Fidesz generally hasn’t even managed to get to the stage of trials. Remember the case against Agnes Heller and the other philosophers? Really shameful!

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  5. kommentelo :
    Wolfi do you think Simon was guilty or innocent? It is not clear from your comments which are you advocating for.

    It doesn’t matter at this point. The important thing to consider is the extent of damage the Fidesz caused and will cause in the next 4 years to the country. Most of us here who think Orban is a crook have no illusions about the MSZP. But both Hitler and Leonardo were painters. We should stick with Leonardo.

    So dear Fidesz trolls. Get this! You are mostly right about the MSZP. Don’t waste your breath here. You should explain why is Orban better choice.

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  6. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if it is the Fidesz DIrtyTricks Dept which has dropped Rogan in the poo. He is the Supreme Don of the 5th distriict, even by Fidesz standards extremely greedy and it was just a question of time before the extent of his blackmailery and corrupt dealings hit the fan. Quite possibly also a longterm challenger for the Dear Leader.

    Would Fidesz do it 2/3 days before the election? They are, with probably good reason, supremely confident of pulling in another 2/3 majority. So throwing a couple of the Fuhrer’s minions to the fire for the sake of PR and to further strengthen his internal positiion, then why not?

    just a side note, one of the regime’s favourite drinking dens, the Otkert, is full of middle-aged, ugly, fat ( a highly subjective adjective,I know) MPs and apparachiks tonight, already celebrating King Vik’s triumphant victory. Amongst the throng, I am sure I also spotted the BBC’s man in Budapest, Mr Thorpe.

    Now… He is not embarrassing himself with very young “enthusiastic” female “fans”but some of those somewhat closer to the centre of power seem 100 per cent convinced of their invincibility.

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  7. oneill :
    just a side note, one of the regime’s favourite drinking dens, the Otkert, is full of middle-aged, ugly, fat ( a highly subjective adjective,I know) MPs and apparachiks tonight, already celebrating King Vik’s triumphant victory. Amongst the throng, I am sure I also spotted the BBC’s man in Budapest, Mr Thorpe.

    Funnily enough, Nick Thorpe has just filed a report about the elections. Apparently, all is well and lovely in Budapest. All you need are some ‘facts’ from Ferenc Kumin to set your mind at rest.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26866071

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  8. Bowen :

    oneill :
    just a side note, one of the regime’s favourite drinking dens, the Otkert, is full of middle-aged, ugly, fat ( a highly subjective adjective,I know) MPs and apparachiks tonight, already celebrating King Vik’s triumphant victory. Amongst the throng, I am sure I also spotted the BBC’s man in Budapest, Mr Thorpe.

    Funnily enough, Nick Thorpe has just filed a report about the elections. Apparently, all is well and lovely in Budapest. All you need are some ‘facts’ from Ferenc Kumin to set your mind at rest.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26866071

    Unfortunately there is no way to put a comment at the end of the article, otherwise we could of skid Thorpe to expend on his entry. I would love to know what the Fidesz politicians like to drink. I would also like to know if the split the bill, Thorp picks it up or they pay for him?

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  9. @Bowen:

    Thanks for the link! If you read Thorpe’s report from Budapest closely and also try to read between the lines it doesn’t look as “pro-Orbán” as it seems at first glance imho!

    Like: “30% cut in gas bills ” vs “27% value added tax – the highest in Europe – harms their standard of living far more.”
    And little things:
    “The newly paved area around the parliament building lacks trees but is otherwise impeccable.”

    “Pro-Russian mood” for Fidesz and even more for Jobbik …

    But maybe I interpret too much …

    PS: Thorpe uses the expression “the centrist bloc ” several times for the opposition! So where does Fidesz stand – surely not to the left …

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  10. Before the trolls come back with a vengeance:

    “Together 2014, a centrist opposition movement” so this does not mean the opposition per se but just a part of “an uneasy coalition of leftist, liberal and green parties”.

    And also very clear (in my eyes): “the popular and populist Prime Minister, Viktor Orban”!

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  11. Well, they couldn’t be that self assured if they mobilised the parrot-commando at once, could they? Or the international press rattled His Holiness, the Viktor so much that they launched a counterattack right away, all over the media?

    Somehow amazing that people willingly gave up reason for zealotry, but obviously this is what happened with the Fidesz fans, they became unconditional Orbán worshippers. At the end it doesn’t really matter if they got there by searching for the Messias, being retarded soccer fans – or simply by attribute substitution, the result mostly the same.

    One more proof how shortsighted they may be their attitude toward the Simon affair. Indeed, at this point doesn’t matter if Simon is guilty or innocent – nobody has verdict either way – but the process as it being handled is unlawful and unfair. In my opinion no self respecting person should consider unlawful process as “right”, not even if the alleged sum of money has dozens of zeroes at the end, or the person happens to be a politician from the other trench, – if we assume that law, order and democracy still existing terms in Hungary.
    Simon held in custody and charged for usage of falsified documents in order to open an account, which document is nowhere to be found and he have never been in the bank in question. All of this based on the statement of a person with questionable credibility, who’s untimely death has no explanation to date. Keep in mind that he still can be guilty as charged or totally innocent at this point, as I mentioned above.
    As I also mentioned, it happens in Hungary, the Banana-Republic of the Charpatian Basin in 2014.

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  12. Pensioner, we had the pleasure already of watching this nice video. It features Budapest parade, which is not really Viktor Orban’s favourite pastime, it also shows some highly appropriate reference to Communist bekemenets (I do not know whether these marches were called this also in the 1970s or 80s), so what exactly is your message? That Viktor Orban is the true successor of Communism, which is why he not only revives these marches and obeys Russian orders but also re-instals the whole machinery of oppression, dependence and low living standards? Good luck with it. Everybody possessing at least some talent will leave the country asap. Then you can bekemenet everyday, and actually you will have to do participate in this fun routinely to secure your livelihood. Resistance is futile. But you will love it.

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  13. The Fidesz center of Gyergyószentmiklós (Romania), called “democracy center” in newspeak has collected 2,000 votes for the Hungarian election.

    They will be open on April 5 Saturday between 10 AM and 5 PM.

    http://www.emnt.org/gyulnek-a-szavazatok-gyergyoban.html

    Fidesz operates 33 EMNT offices in Transylvania.
    Voters can drop off their ballots on Saturday and Sunday at the centers too.

    They have to arrive at the consulates between 6 AM and 7 PM on Sunday, April 6.

    http://www.emnt.org/admin/data/file/20140325/szavazasisegedlet.pdf

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  14. wolfi :

    @Bowen:

    Thanks for the link! If you read Thorpe’s report from Budapest closely and also try to read between the lines it doesn’t look as “pro-Orbán” as it seems at first glance imho!

    Like: “30% cut in gas bills ” vs “27% value added tax – the highest in Europe – harms their standard of living far more.”
    And little things:
    “The newly paved area around the parliament building lacks trees but is otherwise impeccable.”

    “Pro-Russian mood” for Fidesz and even more for Jobbik …

    But maybe I interpret too much …

    PS: Thorpe uses the expression “the centrist bloc ” several times for the opposition! So where does Fidesz stand – surely not to the left …

    I agree with you, Wolfi, but Thorpe is wrong about the impeccable work done on the square. I saw at least 50 close pictures of shoddy work all over the place. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I saw them.

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  15. Apparently Mr. Thorpe wrote his piece in a rather rosy mood, everything just fine and peachy in Hungary, no need for a change.

    The lack of trees on Kossuth square is part of the security concept implemented, providing clear view and no cover around the perimeter.
    Just as the seemingly unmotivated basin across the whole width intended to stop vehicles to drive in with bad intent.

    However, one message clearly came trough: my flagpole is bigger than yours, yeehaaa a …!

    Any idea, who might be the choreographer behind that goos-stepping idiocy, what taking place daily as part of our “national heritage” I presume, otherwise why should it be there in the first place?

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  16. Why do you try to reason with people ranting againt the only objective writing in this country in English ? I stopped teaching English here because I was constantly attacked by “students” like Angela for things which had nothing to do with the lessons.I was stupid because I said that there were 50 states in the US,for example.No wonder Hungary is in last place in the EU in English exams.They should spend money on schools and libraries and not stadiums which are half empty.

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  17. Laszlos Sipos :

    Why do you try to reason with people ranting againt the only objective writing in this country in English ? I stopped teaching English here because I was constantly attacked by “students” like Angela for things which had nothing to do with the lessons.I was stupid because I said that there were 50 states in the US,for example.No wonder Hungary is in last place in the EU in English exams.They should spend money on schools and libraries and not stadiums which are half empty.

    Tell me more. On what basis did they call you stupid when you told them that there are 50 states in the United States?

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