The tax chief Ildikó Vida versus the Hungarian government: Who is lying? Most likely both

Practically daily I hear callers to György Bolgár’s program on Klubrádió, Let’s Talk It Over, ask: “Do these  people think we are that stupid?” ‘These people,’ of course, are the current leaders of Hungary, Viktor Orbán and his coterie.

Well, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.” Moreover, until recently their assumption was correct. A large percentage of Hungarian society swallowed everything that was shoved down their throats. In fact, not much shoving was necessary. The gullible and often fanatic followers of Viktor Orbán refused to face the ever more obvious fact that members of this government brazenly lie. Day in and day out. The lies are necessary, at least in part, to cover up the illegal acts that are being committed daily.

As we all know, lies by their very nature multiply. A vain woman decides to lie about her age and from that moment on her whole life story must be adjusted, a difficult task. As Abraham Lincoln said, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” Well, Hungarian officials are now trying to reconcile contradictory stories. Earlier lies about the alleged corruption case at the Hungarian tax authority (NAV) must be adjusted to square with the new revelations coming from Ildikó Vida, the chairman of NAV and one of the people put on the U.S. travel ban list. I must say that government officials are turning out to be less accomplished liars than one would expect from this experienced crew. The only man who cannot be caught uttering truly contradictory statements is Viktor Orbán. He is a master.

So, what happened today? Ildikó Vida gave a long interview to Magyar Nemzet in which she admitted that she and several other employees of NAV are on the list of six individuals who have been barred by the American government from entering the United States. The reason? Their involvement in corruption cases that hurt the interests of American firms operating in Hungary. This decision couldn’t have come as a shock to the Hungarian government because in the past two or three years the Americans have expressed their displeasure numerous times over the growing corruption in Hungary. Yet the government did nothing, which is not at all surprising because it is my firm belief that corruption is an integral part of the mafia state of Viktor Orbán that has been so aptly described in the two-volume The Hungarian Octopus. 

All right. So we know for sure that Vida is on the list, but as I said earlier, most of us were pretty sure that this was the case. Her sudden disappearance for a two-week vacation only reinforced that suspicion. What was new in this long interview is that Vida told Magyar Nemzet that she informed an unnamed member of the government right after she received the letter about the American decision. That was shortly before she embarked on her vacation on October 22. The problem is that in the last three weeks numerous government members, including the prime minister, have denied knowing any details of the case. They repeated time and again that they would be most willing to cooperate with the American authorities but unfortunately they can’t because they don’t know who is alleged to be involved. In brief, they were caught lying. Besides Viktor Orbán, the list of those who claimed they knew nothing includes János Lázár, Mihály Varga, and Péter Szijjártó.

But, of course, Vida herself is not exactly truthful when she claims that the accusations against her are baseless. The United States government would not embark on such a sensitive bilateral move against an ally without hard evidence. Vida’s threats to seek “legal satisfaction” in court are ridiculous. In the first place, M. André Goodfriend, the U.S. chargé d’affaires and the messenger of the bad news from Washington, did not reveal her name or that of any other person barred from entering the U.S. Moreover, he, as all other members of the diplomatic corps, has immunity against prosecution. Another strange aspect of the case is that Vida’s loud complaints about her ignorance of the American accusations are also bogus. She had and still has an opportunity to find out more about the case at the U.S. Embassy. Up to now she has shown no interest in doing so.

vida ildiko2

Those nasty Internet addicts have a wonderful time with Ildikó Vida

We found out from Ildikó Vida’s interview that there will be an investigation into NAV’s activities. She said that she will investigate the whole organization with “microscopic precision.” The head of the tax office who is accused of corruption will be in charge of the investigation into corruption in the organization. A perfect solution, don’t you think?

This interview is also interesting from the perspective of Ildikó Vida’s relationship to the Orbán government. Surely, Vida did not have to tell the whole world that she informed the appropriate official sometime between October 17 and 22 that she had been barred from entering the U.S. as a result of alleged corruption. After all, by this revelation she pushed Viktor Orbán and his government into a corner. On the surface her move seems both calculated and antagonistic. Observers of the Hungarian political scene immediately connected the dots: Vida has been a close associate of Lajos Simicska, whose current relationship with his old buddy Viktor Orbán is less than rosy. Orbán would like to curb Simicska’s power over politics while Simicska is fighting back with critical articles on some of the Orbán government’s latest attacks on businessmen.

Ildikó Vida is not too eager to cooperate with Fidesz politicians. Last week the parliamentary committee on national security asked her to appear today at its meeting. She did not show up. Instead she sent one of her deputies, Árpád Varga, who most likely could not provide any information to the committee members. Szilárd Németh, chairman of the committee, perhaps in frustration, announced that they will ask Goodfriend to appear before the committee sometime next week. My hunch is that Németh and his friends will not have the pleasure of the American chargé’s company.

In the meantime the official lying continues. Mihály Varga told an inquiring journalist that Ildikó Vida informed him only yesterday about her misfortunes. When a journalist called Szilárd Németh’s attention to the fact that there are only two possibilities in this case–either Vida is lying or the government is–he announced that he sees no contradiction between the two statements. László L. Simon (Fidesz), a member of the committee, is now asking Vida to please tell the government who the “appropriate person” was to whom she told her story. Perhaps that man “forgot to pass on” the information. There is a saying in Hungarian when somebody tells an especially big lie: “And the ceiling did not fall on him!”

Political observers often express their admiration of the Orbán government’s “communication skills.” This time something went very wrong, which is actually not all that surprising. Viktor Orbán and his crew think that good communication means constant lying to foreign politicians and the Hungarian public. Yet we know the other famous quip attributed to Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Or a proverb, which also exists in Hungarian, “the pitcher goes to the well once too often.”

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steve397
Guest

(a) I doubt if the Government knows how not to lie
(b) Ms Vida is certainly lying, otherwise she would admit being corrupt.
(c) Even if both Hungarian Government and Ms Vida are investigated, you’ll never know the truth.

Kincs
Guest

I often think of Lincoln’s comment in relation to Fidesz’s hold on power. Fidesz worked out a long time ago that, while you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, it is enough to fool some of the people all of the time.
You then promote apathy among everybody else – for example by restricting campaign advertising – and you change the rules to ensure that the votes of those who are fooled are worth more than the votes of those who are not.

buddy
Guest

Here’s Árpád Varga’s reaction to the question: Who lied, the government or Ildikó Vida?

No verbal answer, just this terrified look on his face:
http://www.tiikoni.com/tis/view/?id=541781a

tappanch
Guest

Luxembourg Leaks:
Companies associated with Hungary:

ABS-CBN, AMP Capital,
Carlyle Group,
Dubai International Capital, Great A&P Tea Company,
Vermilion Energy Trust, Weatherford International

More companies to come to light on November 10.

http://www.icij.org/project/luxembourg-leaks/explore-documents-luxembourg-leaks-database

Summary article:

http://www.icij.org/project/luxembourg-leaks/leaked-documents-expose-global-companies-secret-tax-deals-luxembourg

tappanch
Guest

Hungarian government’s information requests about Facebook users
[number of requests honored by Facebook]

2013. 1st half: 24 [8]
2013. 2nd half: 51 [11]
2014. 1st half: 78 [19]

http://www.hvg.hu/tudomany/20141106_78_magyar_facebook_felhasznalorol_kert_ki

tappanch
Guest

Vida’s early connections to Orban, Simicska & Fidesz

http://nol.hu/belfold/simicska-es-az-adohatosag-kozott-1496775

Überr
Guest

tappanch

I guess the issue with Luxembourg is whether these companies belong to oligarchs and Mafiosi or not?

Luxembourg, like Ireland is considered a legit, if controversial no exactly, but almost tax haven which is chosen by giant, public corporations.

It never had the reputation of being like Belize or the Cayman Islands or even Switzerland (hell, even Vienna which is an undisputed centre for money laundering services for the former Eastern bloc and SU — it’s not a coincidence that Dmitro Firtas was caught in Vienna at the behest of the Americans). But probably it’s time for Luxemburg to change.

tappanch
Guest

Here is the same photo blown up:

comment image

Yes, the balding man next to Simicska is probably Vámosi-Nagy.

BER
Guest

Not probably. It’s him.

steve397
Guest

Could someone enlighten me as to why the Hungarian Government is interested in users of Facebook and why does Facebook, unlike Google replies to this illiberal bunch?

Guest

Well at least something’s happening now in Hungarian politics!
Re that Hungarian proverb – it was probably derived from the German:
Der Krug geht so lange zum Brunnen bis er bricht
And there is a famous classical play “Der zerbrochene Krug” where a judge gets caught in his lies – maybe some people in Hungary’s mafia will get caught too!

Member

OT: Ulrike Lunacek won his case against Orban’s best buddy, the infamous Zsolt Bayer.
Just to recall in 2012 Bayer as usual went on his verbal diarrhoea against someone who does not share his (mostly ant-semitic, and similar) believes, and publishes different opinions about Hungarian events. ” Bayer uttered the following endearing words about Ulrike Lunacek: “Then comes a half-witted impetiginous lying idiot, Ulrike Lunacek, and I expressed myself delicately … The whole rotten filthy lie from the mouth of a rotten filth bag.”
Since Lunacek was not able to to do anything about the issues in Hungary (the very expensive Media Authority that Orban set-up for this exact reason decided not to pursue), Lunacek launched a civil suit, and she won. Although it is a piddly EUR 2000, I am sure Bayer will appeal. (When I say piddly, I mean in the circles Bayer is a mover and shaker.)

You can read about the source of the dispute here //hungarianspectrum.org/2012/02/15/fidesz-style-ulrike-lunacek-versus-zsolt-bayer/

tappanch
Guest

Two-pronged attack against the foreign-owned grocery chains.

Beneficiary: the owners of the CBA chain, who are ardent Orban supporters.

1. The extension of a “food safety” fee from 0.1% to a maximum 6%.

2. Closure of the large stores on Sundays from March 15, 2015

Result: another squeeze on the poor by forced price raise on food

http://www.portfolio.hu/gazdasag/kkv/bezarnak_a_boltok_vasarnaponkent_marciustol.3.206077.html

http://www.portfolio.hu/gazdasag/tizezrek_veszelyben_magyarorszagon_osszecsap_a_ket_tabor_2.1.206039.html

http://fn.hir24.hu/penzugy/2014/11/03/a-szegenyeknek-fog-nagyon-fajni-ez-az-adoemeles/

tappanch
Guest

Here is the freshly submitted bill:

http://www.parlament.hu/irom40/01914/01914.pdf

Store must close at 10 PM and on Sundays.
There are five exempt Sundays a year.
Stores must close at noon on December 24 and 31.

If a store stays open in the banned days or hours,
it can be closed for 15, 30, 90 dsys
Fourth breach of t law results in a 1 year closure of the store.

This is another example of Orban’s arbitrary governance.

———–

Another bill about what to do if the Budapest Assembly is disbanded.

(Tarlos previously expressed his desire that no party fractions should be
allowed in the Assembly)

http://www.parlament.hu/irom40/01919/01919.pdf

tappanch
Guest

The measure prevents the store employees from earning the hitherto 50% Sunday premium pay and will result in increased unemployment.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@wolfi: French writer Boris Vian once published a funny ‘pataphysical’ text about the French version of the same proverb (Tant va la cruche à l’eau qu’à la fin elle se casse).

Among other things he noted that Sartre didn’t stand a chance against Heidegger for in the German version the existence (the pitcher) precedes the action (going to the well), while in the French – much like in Hungarian- the action precedes the existence. 🙂

tappanch
Guest

Is it true that he only German states where shops still cannot stay open on Sundays are Bavaria and Saarland?

Is it true that the following stores are open in Vienna on Sundays?

“most larger train and U-Bahn stations, as well as Schwechat airport, have small convenience grocery stores in them with staples such as milk, bread, and of course, beer.
Full-size Billa grocery stores can be found at the Praterstern and Franz-Josef Bahnhof stations on the U-Bahn.”

tappanch
Guest

Fidesz bureaucracy.

Here is a beautiful chart. The chart shows the arcane structure of a single governmental unit, the “Ministry of National Development”.

It contains 7 undersecretaries, 11 deputy undersecretaries, 21 secretarial offices, 54 “head” departments and 115 departments.

http://www.kormany.hu/download/c/09/20000/szervezeti-abra.pdf
http://nol.hu/gazdasag/nfm-54-foosztaly-115-osztaly-1496887

Guest

Germany and Austria have a tradition of severely limiting store hours – this might be a “Christian” idea or even a relic from Nazi times, I’ll have to check.

Even in the 1970s all shops in Germany had to close by 18.30 – often they closed by 18.00! I remember leaving work in Hamburg in the evening on my first day of a business trip to find the pedestrian zone deserted in the center of the city – 5 minutes past 6 o’clock …

And on Saturdays most shops closed by 12 – some were open until 14-00 that was the max allowed!

You can imagine my surprise when I took to England by car and found in Dover shops open on Sunday – but then pubs were closed – another strange law.

Even today there are limits by law though they’re getting more liberal every year.

In Austria I just realised that many gas stations now contain small supermarkets (like Spar) which are open all week …

Ron
Guest

I am not worried about the closing times. People will go abroad (Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine) to do the shopping. This is just another thing on top of smoking stores (24/7 and even then they are closing down left right and center), hamburger tax, cash machines, an additional retail tax (double taxation?) on income, limited floor space, high VAT rate (27% only).

Like in 1995 and 1996 I assume somebody will start organizing trips to Esztergom (Slovak side) lots of (international) shops and nowadays very busy, like Romanian and Ukrainians did to Cora and Auchan in 1995 and 1996.

Milos
Guest
tappanch
Guest

@Ron

“I am not worried about the closing times. People will go abroad”
provided you have enough money for gasoline or to own a car.

[The price of the gasoline is significant in Europe.
Almost 2/3 of the retail price goes to the Hungarian government:
excise tax, gasoline tax, 27% VAT, etc.]

So the price of shopping on Sunday will go up for you too.
The stores will be crowded on Saturdays.

The Economics Ministry just said that the junior ruling party head lied:
the government had not yet agreed to the Sunday closure of stores.
(Perhaps Orban agreed to it in private)

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20141106_Vasarnapi_zarva_tartas_nem_mondott_igazat

spectator
Guest

I don’t think that the real issue here should be wether or not Ildikó Vida should go, she’s only a puppet after all, albeit not without interest.

The real question is: are the Hungarian people accept such government in place which deliberately lying to them and their allies, which obviously extorting (foreign?) companies and using the NAV as their enforcer?

Are our allies willing to cooperate with such leaders of such country even in the future?
Are the EU willing to sponsor all the above in order to keep them in power ad infinitum?

In any civilised place they would been out of office and awaiting prosecution by now – in Hungary they making the next law, allowing them to rob even more, openly.

Didn’t I read somewhere that Hungary ‘demand’ more respect, because they deserve it..?
Ya don’t say..?

Tyrker
Guest

László L. Simon has scolded Hungarians for using Facebook instead of Hungary’s own iWiW network. This shows how ill-informed he is when it comes to all things Internet – as iWiW had closed down earlier this year… Oh, and its founder happened to be one of the speakers at the demonstrations against the infamous internet tax:
http://nol.hu/gazdasag/l-simon-az-internetrol-magyar-erteket-magyar-szerveren-1496895

wonni89
Guest

So Viktor Orban and his government members lied to cover up illegal activities. What were these illegal activities? You said “Their involvement in corruption cases that hurt the interests of American firms operating in Hungary.“? But why would the NAV do this? Are there perhaps other illegal activities?

Reality Check
Guest

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Reality Check
Guest

OT. Eva had mentioned that one of the reasons Fidesz reacted with concern to the internet tax demonstration was that many non-political citizens got involved. Here’s some proof from Index.

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