Turkish and Saudi business ties of Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law

I’m coming to the conclusion that the “first family” of Hungary must have gotten together on several occasions to figure out how to guarantee that their new son-in-law, István Tiborcz, becomes a very rich man. Thanks to the good offices of Viktor Orbán, the young man—he is still not quite thirty years old—made a small fortune in the LED street lighting business. In fact, he was too successful. OLAF, the European Union’s Anti-Fraud Office, wanted to know more about this super company that received almost all of the contracts for EU-financed modernization of city lighting in Hungary.

With a possible investigation on the horizon, Tiborcz had to distance himself from the lighting business. And the head of the family had to find another source of income for Tiborcz that would be less directly involved with public procurements. It looks as if Orbán’s advice was for his son-in-law to try his hand at real estate.

Tiborcz’s first real estate venture was the purchase of the Schossberger Mansion last October. His father-in-law most likely also counselled him to make sure that his name doesn’t appear on the letterhead of companies he owns in full or in part. So, the new real estate company, called BDPST Ingatlanforgalmazó, is on paper owned by two people, apparently friends of Tiborcz. But since he paid the excise tax in connection with the purchase of the mansion, we can be confident that Tiborcz is behind BDPST. I wrote about this deal about half a year ago.

At that time we also learned that Tiborcz may have interests in two other real estate firms, AMX HS and AMX Nador House. The CEO of both companies was a wealthy Turkish businessman, Suat Gökhan Karakus, who lives in Hungary.

In the foreground Adnan Polat / Source: Magyar Narancs

Adnan Polat  / Source: Magyar Narancs

A few months later atlatszo.hu discovered that Tiborcz has other important foreign backers. One of them is the incredibly rich Adnan Polat, a Turkish businessman who is one of the owners of AMX HS and AMX Nador House. He has, as 444.hu learned, many contacts within the Orbán government and is very active in Hungarian-Turkish cultural and business associations. He is involved with the Hungarian Trading House in Istanbul, and the Hungarian Cultural Center set up shop in the offices of Polat Holding.

Another man who is now in Tiborcz’s circle of business associates is Ghaith Pharaon, a Saudi businessman of dubious reputation. AMX Nador House, a joint venture of Polat and Tiborcz, managed to buy from the state the old headquarters of Postabank at József Nádor tér. Soon enough they sold AMX Nador House to a certain Ammar M. A. Abu Namous, who immediately changed the name of the company to Pharaon-Kappa Befektetési és Tanácsadó Kft. The Hungarian internet site Válasz soon found out that Namous is a lawyer who handles Ghaith Pharaon’s business ventures in Hungary. There are already seven such businesses, all of whose names include letters of the Greek alphabet. In addition to extremely valuable Budapest properties, Pharaon through Namous bought the Zichy-Hadik Mansion in Seregélyes and the Hochburg-Lamberg Mansion in Bodajk.

The available English-language information on Ghaith Pharaon is extensive, mostly because of his association with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) back in the 1990s. Secretly acting on behalf of BCCI, Pharaon acquired control of two American banks in violation of federal banking laws. When the fraud was discovered, BCCI was forced to sell the banks, which soon after were shut down by regulators when it was determined that they were insolvent. Pharaon was charged with wire fraud and racketeering conspiracy. He has been wanted by the FBI since 1991 for his role in the fraud involving the financial collapse of BCCI and remains a fugitive. In addition, Pharaon was accused in a 2002 French parliamentary report of having financial dealings with hawala, an Islamic financial network which is also used by terrorist organizations. Currently, he is chairman of Attock Petroleum, CEO of National Refinery, and Director of Pakistan Oilfields, just to mention a few of his business ties. He lives mostly on his super yacht named Le Pharaon.

Pharaon might be wanted by the FBI, but the Orbán government is not fussy. Rumor has it that the state is planning to sell the building next door to the former Postabank building that is already in Pharaon’s possession. The building, which is currently occupied by the ministry of national economy, will soon be available when the ministry moves, along with the prime minister’s office, to the Castle District in Buda. In addition to his various real estate deals, Pharaon is also a business partner of the Hungarian state through the Hungarian National Trading House.

The stories circulating about Pharaon eventually worried opposition politicians. At the end of April the parliamentary committee on national security spent a three-hour session on the relationship between Pharaon and the Orbán government, at the end of which deputy chairman Szilárd Németh (Fidesz) informed reporters that “this Pharaon is not that Pharaon.” Then, on June 6, when János Lázár was testifying before the committee about the work of the secret services in the year 2015, Bernadett Szél (LMP) decided to ask him about the “Pharaon case.” Did the government manage to learn more about Pharaon? Since she didn’t receive a satisfactory answer, Szél is demanding a separate hearing of the case in the near future.

Whether Pharaon is a national security risk or not I have no idea, but Tiborcz’s role as an intermediary between the Hungarian government and foreign businessmen, given Tiborcz’s relation to the prime minister, is troublesome to say the least. It seems that Tiborcz and his father-in-law are unwilling to settle for a role for Ráhel Orbán’s husband that has nothing to do with the Orbán government and the Hungarian state. After all, as long as Orbán is prime minister, the financial benefits of such a relationship are enormous.

June 8, 2016
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
June 9, 2016 3:08 am

I just saw Pista Tiborcz yesterday at Tom and George, the downtown Italian place frequented by the Fidesz elite (about two blocks from Four Seasons where Pista and Rasi are regulars).

(Two tables behind Pista sat Dirk Gerkens the CEO, at least on paper, of TV2. Gerkens used to be CEO of RTL Hungary but turned into a loyal fidesznik after RTL Klub dropped him).

Pista was sitting with another similarly aged douchbag and they seemed happy, the sun was shining, life seemed great.

I hate people who always complain. Why can’t we be all happy that there are successful young people? I’m not saying Pista didn’t get some support, we can’t deny that, but he is proving to be a smart businessman. He very soon made a name for himself in the Hungarian hospitality business.

June 9, 2016 3:52 am

“I hate people who always complain.”

I love pople who complain when there is ample reason. Wish there were more of them.

June 9, 2016 7:00 am

“…he is proving to be a smart businessman. He very soon made a name for himself in the Hungarian hospitality business.”
Indeed a talent in the business of using another’s money to make their wealth.

One must also recognize that the NAV is now far more plaint to those elite with political connections as evidenced by their whistle-blower András Horváth. If one can find ways to evade taxes that are condoned by the current government, it would certainly allow them to become a regular at the Four Seasons.

June 9, 2016 7:37 am

In a democratic country there would be a big outcry about this kind of story – but in the illiberal mafia state of Orbanistan people like Pista Tiborcz are admired by the sheeple it seems …

Only a few brave Hungarians show what they’re thinking:

or this

and the comment:
itt a friss völkischer beobachter

Én is librális álcivil akarok lenni!!!! Most!

June 9, 2016 7:48 am
London Calling! BCCI was a massive scandal here in London in the early 90’s involving shady dealing and uncontrolled corruption – leaving massive holes in the accounts. In the regulatory climate at the time it was impossible to tie up all the loose ends – with the UAE refusing to bail it out – it was closed. So complex were the frauds and corruption that the closing process took decades – and is probably still ongoing. Many many people lost their life savings – mostly from Pakistan – but it turned out to be a thoroughly corrupt enterprise. It used to be a joke among all the established banks that if you couldn’t make a loan to somebody because of the risk, then send them along to BCCI. This went on for years and made the City realise that it needed better oversight of the Banks – who up to then worked in their own bubbles as a law unto themselves. Anyone involved in BCCI would today be forbidden for getting involved with anything fiduciary. Not as accountants, bankers, or in insurance. So that’s why they’ve turned up in Hungary. Orban’s den of thieves, including his son- in-law, are perfect… Read more »
June 9, 2016 8:46 am

Btw ‘Hawala’ is a process of trust – not a formal bank at all – in case you thought it was.

It’s the process whereby a trusted friend or relative pays another friend or relative (or trusted intermediary) some money who then gets their trusted relative in the target country to pay the target receiver the money.

There are no paper records – and no audi trail.

Settlement usually occurs with someone else doing a reverse transaction in a similar way – all based on trust with a religious component to ensure fidelity.

It is one of the biggest vectors for the transfer of fraud monies and the proceeds of crime and just cannot be policed.

It is the preferred route for IS, Al Quests and Al Shebab et al

It’s been used for hundreds if years.

June 9, 2016 8:53 am

It’s just Muslim Western Union, then. There is a similar method of money transfer among Mexicans working in the United States, only there need be no “trusted friend” involved. Instead, certain shops in the US advertise money transfer in Spanish, sometimes only to some specific Mexican state or city. People pay a small fee, hand over the cash, an email is sent or a phone call is made, and someone at the other end gives cash to the recipient. It tends to be trustworthy. It does not do to cheat unknown people, who might take revenge, after all.

June 9, 2016 9:31 am

A horrible state of affairs, almost beyond comprehension.

June 9, 2016 6:32 pm

And wait until the ‘sh** ……..hits the fan’….😎….

June 9, 2016 9:54 am

Daily Fidesz corruption tidbits:

The magnanimous EU has paid 558 million forints to drill 59 holes in the ground.
(In theory, the money went for a logistical center, but the EU paid the support without checking if anything had actually been built.)


Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman
June 9, 2016 2:57 pm

If I were Orban’s SIL and saw this:

“His father-in-law most likely also counselled him to make sure that his name doesn’t appear on the letterhead of companies he owns in full or in part. ”

I would simply sue the owner of this site. (and not just for orthographic failures)

June 10, 2016 6:30 pm

Yes Alan, the truth may hurt, but it doesn’t mean you can sue. Try something else.