The Hungarian National Bank’s foundations and their beneficiaries

Last night, after a legal battle, the lists of all the grants the six Hungarian National Bank foundations approved in the last two years were finally released. It will take some time for analysts to sort through these lists to figure out who got how much for what from the foundations. Not only are the lists long, but it can happen that the same person or company received grants from several foundations.

The six foundations of the Hungarian National Bank have complicated names starting with Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, and many other virtues. By now only acronyms are used, like PADA, PADOC, and PADS. In any case, György Matolcsy sank 265.65 billion forints or 855.7 million euros of public money into his foundations. He had no intention of ever revealing where all that money would eventually end up. But the Kúria, Hungary’s highest court, decided otherwise. Hence the release of the lists of foundation grants.

These foundations, in addition to serving as sources of grants to the regime’s favorites, also provide job opportunities and extra income for close associates or friends of the management of MNB. The yearly salaries of the six foundation directors amount to 320 million forints. In addition, 30 individuals serve as paid members of their boards. Some people have multiple jobs at different foundations.

It will take some time to determine the greatest beneficiaries of György Matolcsy’s largesse. But so far we can say that they all seem to be politically close to the present government. I would place many of them on the far right of the Hungarian political spectrum.

The building of the Hungarian National Bank

The building of the Hungarian National Bank

One major beneficiary was New Wave Media Kft., whose managing director is István Száraz. It recently acquired two internet news sites: vs.hu and Origo. It also owns two English-language sites: welovebudapest.com and welovebalaton.hu. They seem to be useful sites for potential tourists. One can learn very little about the corporate structure of New Wave from its website, but Hungarian newspapers seem to know that György Matolcsy’s cousin, Tamás Szemerey, is one of the owners.

According to a quick estimate, New Wave received grants from all six foundations, amounting to more than 500 million forints. Over and above this amount 70 million forints was given directly to the ailing vs.hu website. In addition, New Wave received 14 million forints for the translation of three books by George Friedman, a geopolitical forecaster of Hungarian origin who seems to be an admirer of Viktor Orbán.

The foundations poured quite a bit of money into publishing ventures–translations as well as original works. One book found worthy of translating–this time into Polish, Romanian, Czech, and Ukrainian–was Chess and Poker: Chronicle of the Victorious Battles of the Hungarian Economic War of Independence, written by Matolcsy’s secretary, Helga Wiedermann. The book created quite a stir in Hungary when it appeared. Wiedermann recounted that on November 17, 2011, when the Hungarian government officially announced that it had decided to turn to the IMF for a loan, Matolcsy had lunch with three representatives of Goldman Sachs. He told them about the decision four hours before the official announcement. According to Wiedermann, one of three visitors immediately excused himself to go to the rest room, presumably to inform, directly or indirectly, Goldman’s forex trading desk. The EUR/HUF chart from that day shows immediate buying pressure after Matolcsy’s indiscretion. I wrote about this incident shortly after the book appeared in March 2014. So now this book will be available to a larger reading public. The cost of translation, printing, and advertising was 68.5 million forints plus VAT.

Kairosz Publishing House, the favorite of the Hungarian right, received 39 million forints for the publication of a six-volume series on Hungarian history by Dr. Miklós Kásler. And no, his doctorate is not in history. He is the director of the National Institute of Oncology. For a number of years he has appeared on state television with his own version of Hungarian history. The members of the board found the publication of this multi-volume work important because “it can serve as a counterbalance to the strongly globalized historical view arriving from the West.” It is supposed “to form the world view of new generations and to strengthen the patriotic sentiment against the globalist views.” The six volumes cover Hungarian history from the arrival of the Magyars in the Carpathian basin to, I assume, the glorious governance of Viktor Orbán.

A new book–“Unorthodox Eccentrics” (Unortodox különcök)–by István Lovas, the Jewish anti-Semite with a questionable past, was also found worthy of financial assistance. It too was published by Kairosz. The book is supposed to be a comparison of the Hungarian, Icelandic, and Malaysian handling of the recent economic crisis. According to the review I read, it is mostly about Viktor Orbán the brave and “everybody else.”

Among the grant recipients is another “favorite” of mine, Tamás Fricz. He calls himself a political scientist and for a while was actually an associate of the Political Science Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. A few years ago the new director of the Institute had the courage to throw him out since Fricz is a Fidesz propagandist, pure and simple. More about his anti-German and anti-Israeli propaganda can be found in one of my earlier posts. Fricz’s subsidized book is a collection of 80 articles written between January 2013 and October 2014. The publisher received 1.2 million forints to help defray costs.

Finally, a 1.5 million grant was given to the Szabad Piac Alapítvány for the publication of the Hungarian translation of Tom G. Palmer’s edited volume After the Welfare State: Politicians Stole Your Future, You Can Get It Back. The book is available online. Palmer’s introduction begins: “Young people today are being robbed. Of their rights. Of their freedom. Of their dignity. Of their futures. The culprits? My generation and our predecessors, who either created or failed to stop the world-straddling engine of theft, degradation, manipulation, and social control we call the welfare state.”

So far I have spent very little time perusing the lists, but I think that even these few examples give us an idea of the mission of the Hungarian National Bank’s foundations. Not financial literacy, not economic research, but the promulgation of Orbán’s ideology and the dissemination in Hungarian of the limited, questionable support it finds in the West. And, of course, assistance for the government’s friends and family.

April 23, 2016
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petofi
Guest

News from the ‘peaceful’ Islamists of the world:

“Dhaka (AFP) – Unidentified attackers hacked to death a university professor in Bangladesh on Saturday, police said, adding that the assault bore the hallmarks of previous killings by Islamist militants of secular and atheist activists.

Police said English professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, was hacked from behind with machetes as he walked to the bus station from his home in the country’s northwestern city of Rajshahi, where he taught at the city’s public university.”

dos929
Guest
The incomprehensible fact is that the masses of the Hungarian people, most of who suffer from the corrupt practices of the Orban regime through the dilapidated and nearly non-existent infrastructure of the country (health care, roads, public transport, etc…) tolerate this blatant robbery of the countries assets. In communist China, regardless how high the official in question would be in the hierarchy of the regime, such corruption would put him against the wall and would be executed. In Hungary the Orban regime is thriving on the endless corruption, that is could no longer be called simply ‘corruption’, but the wholesale robbery of the nation’s assets. The reality that the regime rules most tools of the media, thus restricts information, and moreover, just use it as their propaganda tool spreading lies and misinformation, can no longer be held as an excuse for the masses ‘not to know’ what is happening with their country. And if they let it go on as it was for the past 6 years, soon enough there won’t have a country that they could call as their own. It will be the private property of the Orban regime… And those professionals and intellectuals that could make the… Read more »
CyclistJoe
Guest
@dos929 There is nothing incomprehensible here. Most people simply will not receive news about the National Banks’s issues. (And about other scandals.) That’s a thing on the internet, not in TV or radio or free newspapers. Average joes don’t use the internet for reading news (and many will look only for their preferred site which may not present the news from a critical point of view). Also, in the present case stealing is way too complicated for average people to figure out reality (foundations, front companies, real estate etc.). The opposition doesn’t make it easy to understand. It’s not like you have the hapless Gabor Simon of MSZP with his Austrian bank account with a 100m forints on it. People get that. The central bank’s shenanigans are overwhelmingly complicated for average people. Secondly, people tolerate a lot of things if they don’t think that the opposition which would replace Fidesz would not be much better. (“Fidesz at least has now a full stomach, after robbing Hungary, the communists are hungry so they will just steal everything again, better to keep Fidesz especially as we don’t like those gipsy-hugging, gay-loving urbanites…). Some readers here call this trolling eben to raise the… Read more »
petofi
Guest

The odd thing is that it is precisely thievery which keeps the Fidesz gang together, plus the fear of Orban’s Revenge.

Guest

On reading the piece from Prof Balogh it is unfortunate that when a country is run say by maybe just five people as a decision-making clique somewhere in a smoky back room and controlling the most crucial areas of government leadership this ‘thievery’ has to be the result.

So I’d have to say the country continues and is well on the setups of Russia and China were ‘just a few’ rule the many. I give those guys ‘ket piros csillags’ for their efforts. What a bunch.

Guest
London Calling! I’m beginning to see how the communist attitude of old Hungarian politics still prevails in this commocracy. It is an ‘ism’ – Orbanism. Get together the old elite ‘Nomenklatura’ and form a Government that just persuades a political and economic union – the EU will do – that you are transitioning to a new liberal politics. Convince them that you are doing your best to embrace their values – whilst exploiting fully their sympathy that the people really suffered under the old system and it will take time to turn the country around. Whilst milking to the full all the transition, development and cohesion funds you can lay your hands on whilst submitting exorbitant bills and creaming off your ‘commission’ which takes a larger and larger slice of the principal whilst pretending you are new to all this stuff. All the while your own ‘Nomenklatura’ are convincing themselves – because it was the old ‘elite’ system they and their parents benefitted from – that you deserve these spoils because your are equal but more equal and deserve these rewards – in other and admins you have special shops for the ‘more equals’. Kadar’s opulent car is a sight… Read more »
Filip
Guest
Guest

Are you sure?
Freedom House ranked Equatorial Guinea as the 11th most oppressive country in the world, with a rating shared by countries like Syria, Somalia and North Korea, in its latest annual index.
The big difference:
Hungary has no oil to sell – only its young people which have already been leaving in droves …

spectator
Guest

I wonder, why isn’t there any publicly available information (yes, overnight, if it is the case) which would put those sums and figures in context?

Say, “265.65 billion forints equals upgraded and functioning healthcare plus working education and some change..” — or whatever the fact is.

Why it’s so damned hard to the so called opposition to put in some effort and launch a campaign?

Please, don’t tell me, that they can’t afford to put some ads in place and see to it that it will reach their target groups..!
I don’t believe that the level of incompetence really that severe, I rather guess that there is no direct “interest” in doing so.

Just think about it: suddenly everyone start supporting parties which are completely clueless, what to do next..!
Disaster, if there ever was one!
What would happen with the comfortable positions as gullible MP-s, when it turns out that the sit comes with responsibility too?

Member

“@spectator/@CyclistJoe” are standard troll-fare, ignoring, as always, the dead obvious: Nothing can be worse than Orban’s systemic thievery and corruption and his alienation of Hungary from decency and the rest of the world. Any of the opposition parties other than Jobbik (playing the unwitting Orban-assigned role of bad cop), if they took over tomorrow, would already make the difference between night and day, choking stench and breathable air. The Orban-troll formula, customized for this forum, is like Orban changing his spots in Eva’s preceding posting: lip-service to the grievances of this constituency, hand-wringing, and then the Orbanian give-away: the opposition would be even worse. Transparent nonsense to all but the cerebrally challenged Hungarian voter (and those Hungarian Spectrum stalwarts who simply can’t resist trying to reason with repetitive Zombie machines planted precisely for that purpose…).
comment image

Guest

Stevan?

Spectator is not – and never has been – ‘standard troll-fare’.

Retract please.

Member

I think perhaps we stalwarts need to be careful not to make common cause with Orban by running down the (democratic) opposition, no matter how frustrated we are with the negative progress in unseating Orban. (Although I have trouble keeping up with all the pseudonyms, yes, it crossed my mind that “spectator” sounded like a pseudonym that is normally on the side of the angels… But then trolls sometimes adopt look-alike names too. I would echo the recent call for the stalwarts to become members rather than posting as guests, like the trolls.)

spectator
Guest
Stevan, with all my respect – you just making the ’cause’ against reasoning plausible right now. Why would be any better mindlessly praising the so called (yes, in my opinion most of them only along for a ride) opposition, when they’re acting like a bunch of castrated puppies? The mafiosi – aka Fidesz – doing just about everything in order to rob the country dry, and the majority of the people still convinced that “Gyurcsány took our money” and “Orbán saved the nation”! You of all people must be perfectly aware that communication is everything in this game (too), and what is there instead is less than nothing. So tell me, why, if not for the incompetence or some selfish reason? I know that it could be done, I even know how to do it, while a couple of dozen people who have communication as task by the respective parties obviously have no idea. (Not because I’m so damn good, but because they are in the wrong profession) And I’m pissed because of this, because they missing the chance to hit while it hot. If you think that this is kind of common ground with the Orbanist zombies, I would… Read more »
Member
I think we are all frustrated with lack of progress in ousting Orban. I (unlike Orban and his trolls) find it difficult to believe that the opposition (especially DK) is so incompetent and unimaginative that they are missing real opportunities to do things that would make a difference. My hunch is that Orban’s death-grip is tighter than we are even imagining. But here the veterans of Hungarian Spectrum could perform a real service: If you know how to do it, why don’t you either post it here or, if it’s better kept confidential, send it directly, or by mediator, to DK or the opposition party of your choice? It’s certain (and I am sure you will agree) that just joining the Orban trolls in excoriating the opposition in a situation like this is not helping anyone or anything. (I apologize that I don’t know who you are and I don’t read all postings frequently or thoroughly enough to have a clear idea in my head about who is who. I tend to respond to the content rather than the person, since I mostly have no idea who the person is. Your posting, following hard on the heels of @Cyclist Joe,… Read more »
Guest
@Stevan Harnad Today 8:58 pm I think that the intemperate and indiscriminate shooting of messengers on the principle that messages concerning the “negative progress” [sic!] of left-wing or ‘democratic’ opposition in Hungary should be mercilessly choked off, is not just self-defeating and thoroughly counterproductive, but downright stoopid and offputting, as is illustrating your point with cartoons so dripping with grotesque hate as to deal you out of consideration as a serious commenter. It is obvious that you are neither able nor willing to identify and distinguish genuine trolls from commenters who merely voice opinions that you find disagreeable. Your mindlessly obsessive stance reminds me that of the Szállasi era in the dying days of WW2, when ‘Kitartás!’ (‘Perseverance!’) was the slogan of the day against any and all sane rhyme or reason, or that of the Rákosi era, when all dissent was mercilessly choked off. An ostrich policy of burying one’s head in the sand is never helpful, because reality has a tendency to bite, and bite hard, especially when the inconvenient facts are right in front of one’s nose. Instead of shooting the messengers and incessantly carping about them, you could actually make yourself useful by mounting plausible counterarguments… Read more »
Member

Mike: Szállasi? Dissent choked off in Rakosi era?. Ostrich policy? My mindlessly obsessive stance?

spectator
Guest
Been there, done that, etc. – no use! Didn’t lead anywhere, but it isn’t really surprising, particularly in light of they admittedly nurturing the idea that “politics is not merchandise” — as I heard. Another time, though, but I doubt much has changed. In fact I recommended that marketing and communication shouldn’t left to politicians, if they want it working. It needs an entirely different set of skills to deliver the message than decide what the message should contain. Let alone the need of a rather conflicting feature here: while the “politics isn’t merchandise”, one simply must have all the knowledge required to know, how lead in/sell a new product in order to promote a political idea, program or a party on the right way. Otherwise no chance in hell it would work. As we can see it. It was no accident that the initial profiling of Fidesz was made of András Wermer, who even participated in their campaigns later on — may rest in peace — because he did what someone with professional knowledge should have done, and did it right. The way as it should be done, if someone mean business. On the wrong side, mind you, but… Read more »
Guest

@spectator
Today 4:30 pm

There is really no need to apologize to Stevan. His mindless habit of indiscriminate and intemperate shooting the messenger is just dead wrong.

Your point about the crucial importance of high level communication skills in politics, and the desperate need for the democratic opposition to develop those skills, is not just absolutely correct, but nothing could in fact be more bleeding obvious than the point you are making.

Observer
Guest

@stevan h
Re trolls: the use of “clueless leftists gypsy-hugging” gives them away.

In fact Fidesz has been received less and less at every election, in 2014 less than in 2006.

Organ is the worst option, anyone would be better, in 1989 complete amateurs took over and still managed. In 2002-2010 Hungary did way better than now in almost every respect. To improve things further the Organ Mafia should be purged from all positions, MNB included, as they will sabotage everything as they did in 2002 – 2010.

didasmaki
Guest

Observer: Have you ever talked to average folks living in the country? Do you have any idea what they think about the liberals and leftist parties? I can tell you they do register that the Left is pro-Gipsy (compared to the Fidesz and Jobbik) in its talk. The gipsy issue is an existential issue for many voters. It is their personal history (which will be gone when due to demographics romas, with their distinctive, pre-modern culture, will take over many regions) and future.

This is also a perception issue. Just like in Israel the Labour has an image of being Arab-lovers. Like it or not this has a negative consequence on the Left’s overall popularity.

It is not trolling to raise these facts. Of course the Left may win despite this image or you can say it should lose but be faithful to its values but it is still a fact that “urban intellectuals” are as seen as out of touch (talking all the time about discrimination of the roma but doing nothing about the disruptive behavior of romas in quite rural communities). The left either does something about this or will continue to lose.

Guest

So “The left” is pro-Roma while Fidesz is anti-Roma?
But will that help to solve the “population problem” – you probably mean that Roma have more children …
And what about the dysmal education level of many Roma?

So what do you see as the future of Fidesztan? A majority of uneducated Roma and a minority of hateful Fideszniks – while all the left have left (pun intended) for more progressive and richer countries?
Sounds like Utopia for O and his Fidesz mafia …

spectator
Guest

” Do you have any idea what they think about the liberals and leftist parties?”
Do they know what ‘liberal’ really means, or they just go with the Orbanist definition?
Since we’re all learned that in Hungary “words have another mesning”than anywhere else, I rather doubtful that the picture is correct in any way.
If you would be liberal yourself, you’d probably know, what I mean.
For now just try to figure this: liberals are pro human, period.
Without any kind of distinction, hence discrimination.
Unfortunately this – by thefinition – exclude zealot Orbanists, but hey, you just can’t have allways everything, can you?

Observer
Guest

@didasmaki

I live in Budapest and rarely communicate with people from deep country. I assume they are poorly informed and conservative to nonsense.
In Budapest and some cities, however, I could hardly hear any fidesz supporters over the last two years. From sauna patrons to hairdressers, from taxi drivers to handymen they blast the thieving gang. etc. I suppose some normal people, former Fid supporters, are just laying low.
The most faithful I know are the wanebees from middle, lower middle class.

I agree with your assessment of the treatment of the Roma issue, but this issue is being fanned way out of proportion by the ever lying orban propaganda.
An economic life improvement for non-Roma means not only better life, but eventually a choice of residence, ditto for better living Roma, who would commit less crimes.

Note that having usurped power, in the absence of any creative/positive ideas and action, the orban gang uses it almost total media control to fan hate and division. Together with the grand wholesale robbery these remain their greatest “achievements”.

Wire
Guest

Free Palestine!

Guest

Free beer (tomorrow …)!

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Guest

Stevan Harnad: ”Transparent nonsense to all but the cerebrally challenged Hungarian voter (and those Hungarian Spectrum stalwarts who simply can’t resist trying to reason with repetitive Zombie machines planted precisely for that purpose…).”

If it is sometimes difficult to disinguish bona fide commenters from trolls on the basis of their expressed opinions, it will be difficult to distinguish worthies for membership from unworthies. Likewise it will be difficult to know precisely who you may answer and who you must ignore.

It is my impression that Hungarian Spectrum has a certain readership outside the circle of the saved. Those readers may be bewildered, beadly informed or downrigt cerebrally challenged. In any case we must, as a service to them, point out that glaringly nonsensical comments are in fact nonsensical. Even if we know that certain commenters are silly, mad or otherwise beyond reason we must contradict them for the sake of the innocent readers.

Observer
Guest

Hear, hear.

We are on the same side, try to maintain a decorum and objectivity.

@ambalint @stevan h

Ambalint has a point, but save your satire and venom for the evil gang and focus on informing the broader reader.
This is the prime purpose of this blog isn’t it, even if we enjoy to make a stab from time to time.

Member
I agree with @JeanP and @Observer, but “membership” only means that the poster is identified with a permanent id. That’s easier for Eva to control than new and constantly changing guest ids. (I also think it’s better not to use pseudonyms unless the poster has reason to fear retribution from Fidesz.) The only concrete suggestions I could have had for the democratic opposition are the two obvious ones (and both are already being followed): (1) relentlessly research Orbanian corruption and illegality, publicly expose and document it domestically and abroad, and where possible challenge it in the courts; (2) forge alliances among democratic parties internally and cultivate democratic support and allies abroad. Apart from their senseless, short-sighted and truly reprehensible unwillingness to unite in a common front, I think the democratic opposition is doing all the above to the best of its ability. Those who chastise them for not doing more are often (unwittingly or even knowingly) yearning that they should operate more like Fidesz. I think that would be self-defeating. “Negative progress” means losing ground despite efforts. But perhaps that is not even accurate right now. Nyako’s (MSzP) successful challenge on the sunday-closing referendum (though Orban limited its success in… Read more »
spectator
Guest

Stevan, you mention respectable efforts — I mean it — but beating the tyranny takes much more than that. You need the support of every honest but mislead people all over the country, and in order to get that you have to distribute information.
Communicate, in short.
With everyone!
In this respect the above mentioned cases — however devoted and effective they might be — hardly able to scratch the surface countrywide, due to their reach of influence.
There is no way to substitute conscious and meticulous communication, we like it or not.
This is one more reason to combine resources and unite power — in case there is honest and serious intention to change this nightmare.

Guest

A bit OT:

Today we had our yearly visit from the “Chimney sweep” who is a really nice guy and after he checked everything we went out for the paperwork when he suddenly started ranting – Among a lot of expletives I only understood “O” and that he was very angry …
My wife later told me that he was complaining about the daily corruption in all parts of the government …
So it seems that the “regular Hungarians” are waking up – at least some of them!

András B. Göllner
Guest
There is a saying – the best way to rob a bank is to own it. That’s the approach taken by György Matolcsy, the Head of the National Bank of Hungary. The government of Orbán Viktor has a well documented track record in this form of robbery. The most recent example of this involves the MKB bank, which was brought under the supervision of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, stripped of most of its assets, and will now be sold for a pittance, to some Fidesz insiders, who will no doubt receive massive public subsidies, ostensibly to make the bank more competitive. Crime pays in Hungary, especially, if the criminals hold the reigns of power. All the statistical indices have been corrupted, to hide the true face of poverty, decay and corruption. Deception is the rule of the day. But who cares ? The streets of Budapest are teeming with tourists, the girls are playful, the strains coming out of the Franz Liszt Music Academy are sweet to the ears, the cafés and restaurants are full, the schnitzels are as good as ever along the Duna Corso. What more do we want ? Maybe a better fence, but that’s simple.… Read more »
Guest

@András:
That’s one of Bertolt Brecht’s most famous sayings from the Three Penny Novel/Opera
Was ist ein Bankraub im Verhältnis zu der Gründung einer Bank …

Honest Spectator
Guest

Overseas visitor
I think you are all too indoctinated. Why don’t you think for yourself and especially what is for the good of your own country? By the time you emerge from the sleep someone else has taken over your country and you are the serfs of a foreign master.
How can people be so ignorant as to let other countries dictate what YOU should do.
Silly. But then, that is the idea, make you follow other idiots.

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