Roland Mengyi, the Fidesz Voldemort: from billionaire’s front man to politician

This is the story of Roland Mengyi’s sudden appearance, out of total obscurity, in high politics. The original article titled “Egy milliárdos táskahordójából lett politikus a fideszes Voldemort” (The Fidesz Voldemort went from being the bag carrier of a billionaire to a politician) originally appeared in index.hu and was translated by the staff of The Budapest Sentinel.

Earlier I reported on the findings of Attila Rajnai, an investigative journalist, who in two installments published details of the scandal in the weekly 168 Óra. Since then another installment has appeared, which strongly suggests that officers of the Nemzeti Adó- és Vámhivatal (National Tax and Customs Administration/NAV) were ready to arrest Mengyi when he was negotiating with the two tender applicants from Tiszaújvár about a year ago. The officers’ superior, however, wouldn’t give them permission to act. Rajnai suspects that it was either András Tállai, president of NAV, or Péter Polt, the country’s chief prosecutor, who, for a while at least, saved Mengyi’s skin.

Tállai is a member of parliament, undersecretary in the ministry of interior, and, in his spare time, head of NAV, a huge organization. For one reason or other, Tállai’s appointment was of special importance to Viktor Orbán. But, at the same time, he didn’t want Tállai to relinquish his parliamentary seat in case Fidesz loses a third seat at a by-election. Hence Tállai’s multitasking challenge.

Another development in the case is a unique move by Péter Polt. He asked László Kövér, president of parliament, to initiate proceedings which might lead to the suspension of Ronald Mengyi’s immunity. In the past, the Fidesz majority of the parliamentary committee in charge of immunity cases always denied requests to suspend Fidesz members. This time, I believe, they will oblige. Tomorrow I will outline one possible way Fidesz might handle the case.

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Mengyi2

Official résumé: We know almost nothing about what the Fidesz parliamentary representative Roland Mengyi did prior to becoming a politician in 2010. He is not answering any questions about his earlier life. Nor is he talking about an ugly corruption scandal to which he has been connected. For this reason we looked into his past. It turns out that, while it does not appear on his résumé, he worked first for the Republican Guard, later as a driver for the front man of a billionaire entrepreneur.

Apart from his enterprising wife, an influential Fidesz city politician may have played an important part in his suddenly becoming a politician.

A typical political entrepreneur—based on his previous life this would be the best way to characterize Roland Mengyi, although his previous life is the thing about which it is possible to know virtually nothing, at least on the basis of what the politician has disclosed about himself.

When Mengyi became a Fidesz member of parliament in 2009, he wasn’t only completely unknown to voters but also within his party as well. He just appeared out of nowhere. As to what Mengyi did prior to 2010, the only thing appearing on his official résumé uploaded to parlament.hu is that, and we quote, “Public administration, free market. Former president of a public foundation, (sic).

Although we tried to ask Mengyi about the period before his career in politics, he was not willing to say anything. The Fidesz press office wasn’t able to help us learn anything about his past. For this reason we had no choice but to investigate where the Fidesz politician came from and whom he has to thank for his political career. We spoke with those who knew him from the past and had either a business or personal relationship with him. Finally the picture became clear. Mengyi was born in Tiszaújváros in 1975. He was still a child when his parents moved to neighboring Sajóörös. He attended school in Tiszaújváros where he obtained his high school diploma. He liked to do sports and in 1994 placed 10th in the junior body building tournament in the 90 kg category where he represented Tiszaújváros. Later he moved to Budapest.

His résumé doesn’t mention this either, but we know from other sources that at the end of the 1990s during the first Orbán government he worked in parliament as a member of the Republican Guard. Mengyi did not answer questions relating to this. The Ministry of the Interior, on the other hand, indicated that it could not release information about this.

One of his former colleagues told Index that he served as a security guard, and we spoke with another acquaintance of his who said he was a personal bodyguard.

One source close to him told us that he was in fact with the Republican Guard and later became the personal bodyguard of Pál Solt, then president of the Hungarian Supreme Court. At that time he was proud of the fact that he appeared in the background of a photograph of Viktor Orbán and Pál Solt.

How the driver became a lawyer

The turning point in Mengyi’s career came when he got together with the daughter of a famous Budapest veterinarian. His acquaintances at that time believe that through his girlfriend he entered an intellectual world previously unknown to him and that this influenced his future career: the simple, less intellectual, country bumpkin began studying law at the Pázmány Péter Catholic College. However, a terrible tragedy turned his family life upside down. When he was down on his luck, the veterinarian’s cousin, the billionaire entrepreneur István Petrás, took Mengyi under his wing.

Those in the billionaire’s circle say that at the beginning Petrás did not especially like Mengyi. The persons in question recollect that those belonging to the circle felt the guy of humble origins was using the intellectual medical family as a kind of springboard. “Roland was a clever guy, he learned fast, and studied law at night, he was hard working,” says an old acquaintance. Another person says precisely the opposite. A person belonging to Petrás’s circle says he doesn’t remember Mengyi for his brilliant mind.

In any event, in time Mengyi became Petrás’s confidante.

At that time Petrás was doing well. With assets amounting to many billions of forints, he was listed as one of the 100 most affluent Hungarians. There must have been real trust between the two because, between 2006 and 2008, Mengyi was listed as an owner of one of the billionaire’s companies. However, Petrás’ acquaintances believe that the future politician was needed only as a kind of front man (stróman) for the wealthy entrepreneur, who was dealing primarily in real estate and who characteristically avoided the spotlight. In other words, although Petrás paid him well, he used Mengyi as a simple errand boy and bagman. This explains how Mengyi became the chairman of the board of trustees for the Biatorbágy Health House Foundation founded by Petrás in 2006. The foundation was created for a project belonging to a public private partnership (PPP) in which Petrás was interested along with the Biatorbágy local government. The health house was eventually christened in 2009 by Gordon Bajnai’s Minister for Health, Tamás Székely. According to the minutes that can be downloaded over the internet, by then Mengyi was already a Fidesz member of parliament and thus represented the foundation in the negotiations with the local government.

It wasn’t Petrás who played a key role in Mengyi’s political career but his wife, who dealt in real estate in the 2000s and who later developed a close working relationship with Petrás. In fact, the two met through the billionaire businessman. The woman belonged to a group of businessmen whose success was largely due to their political connections. The defining individual of this circle was Róbert Juharos, who had a joint company with Mengyi’s future wife in the 2000s.

Juharos, who at one time worked at the law firm of KDNP MP György Rubovszky, was one of the founders of the Budapest 8th district chapter of Fidesz and was a member of parliament between 1998 and 2002. But his real career took place in the 8th district. Everything having to do with district development or related to property development went through his hands. Many credit him with the fact that over time a rundown district became a more secure place attractive to investors. Mengyi’s wife also benefited from being connected to Juharos, since one of her real estate companies, for example, specialized in the property of the district government. Furthermore, she, alongside her former husband, had a stake in Juharos’ law office.

Mengyi’s wife was not a simple dealer in real estate. Earlier she worked together with her lawyer husband on the sale of industrial property and on re-zoning, and she dealt with municipal properties, including those slated for demolition. That was the time when companies and private individuals of dubious reputation were able to acquire real estate very inexpensively by promising phantom projects and improvements, even guaranteeing them, which never materialized. In many cases the real estate was sold based on loose interpretations of the terms of the public tender. Juharos did so well that, in time, his name was mentioned as one of the future Fidesz hotshots, although he severely jeopardized his party career when in the middle of the 2000s Lajos Simicska became upset with him. Regardless, to this day he has been able to preserve his influence in the district under Máté Kocsis, Fidesz mayor. He is the president of the district chapter of Fidesz, is Kocsis’ adviser, and his law office contracted with the district government between 2011 and 2014.

Took up politics in secrecy

Not long after Mengyi and his future wife got together, Petrás and Mengyi had a falling out. According to acquaintances, Petrás had a very ugly quarrel with Mengyi because Mengyi concealed things from him which the billionaire believed he should have known. For example, that his protégé was getting into big politics. He only found out when Mengyi wanted to quit. “Roland wanted to leave Petrás. He asked from him his money and the promised percentages, to which Petrás reacted by telling him he was not entitled to them because the projects were not yet completed and money had yet to come in. They had an ugly quarrel, but I believe that since then they’ve patched up their relationship,” a source with a vantage point on both individuals told Index.

Those close to Mengyi believe that Juharos did a lot to help him go from being an errand boy to a politician. Many believe it was the president of the District 8 chapter of Fidesz who introduced Mengyi to how things worked in the party, and how to advance. This helped Mengyi obtain a position even though he was completely unknown within Fidesz.

It was not only Juharos who helped him, but also the lawyer who introduced him to Petrás in the first place. The lawyer personally knew one of the leading Fidesz politicians who had the final word on nominating candidates. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Mengyi became the Fidesz candidate for parliament for Tiszaújváros even though he did not reside there and played no role in the life of the party in Borsod County. Apart from the fact that he was born there and went to school there, he had nothing to do with Tiszaújváros. As we wrote in an earlier article, after the 2010 parliamentary elections, the political career of the previously unknown Mengyi began to rise. By summer it was decided that he would be the Fidesz candidate for chairman of the Borsod County Assembly in the autumn election after it was determined that the current president, Ferenc Ódor, was leaving. Mengyi was nominated by the head of the Fidesz delegation, Dezső Török, to be Ódor’s successor. We tried to ask Török about Mengyi, but he was on vacation. At the same time he indicated that, in his opinion, he was not qualified to speak about his fellow politicians.

After becoming a politician, Mengyi’s self-confidence grew. According to his acquaintances, it is entirely believable that Mengyi referred to himself as Lord Voldemort according to the wiretap records leaked by 168 Óra, because at a family event held in Tiszaújváros in 2010 the waiters called him “My Lord Lieutenant” (“Főispán uram”), and those in attendance said that wasn’t supposed to be a joke.

Poor rich people

If we look at Mengyi’s declaration of assets, the politician does not rank among the more affluent Hungarians. According to his 2011 financial statement, he already had HUF 10 million ($40,000) in savings, that is he was able to put aside 9.2 million in under a year, which means that he must have made an average of HUF 760,000 a month at minimum. One year later he inherited a house and a flat (he became the half owner), but he was no longer an owner in his company, and his savings had decreased by half. According to his most recent financial statement (2015), he bought neither a car nor a flat last year, and his savings do not amount to even HUF 4 million ($12,000). His children don’t have their own assets either. Nevertheless, his acquaintances believe that his wife owned many Budapest properties when they met her. Moreover, one of the politician’s previous companies, Park Consulting, lets out property that it owns. According to them, the Mengyi family purchased a number of pieces of property since 2010 that are not registered in the politician’s name.

Scandalous affairs

Since entering politics in 2010, his name has come up in connection with two scandals. The most memorable one was when Blikk published a list of Fidesz politicians who spent a few pleasant days in the Azores on the occasion of the European Regional Assembly. Mengyi’s name appeared on this list. In fact, it turned out that he played a central role in the scandal because the Fidesz politicians taking part in the holiday on the islands justified their trip on the basis of Mengyi’s being the county chairman of the Roma strategy.

He was once again in the spotlight in the fall of 2013 in connection with an unusual matter involving the tendering of state lands, which was uncovered by Népszabadság. The 2011 land tender was interesting because the tender was withdrawn after the deadline due to pressure from above so that the land could be awarded to people close to Fidesz.

At the time Népszabadság wrote that Mengyi played a role in the revocation of the tender. Allegedly, he was the one who ordered the head of the Bükki National Park Directorate to withdraw the tender. Among those who won the land was Mengyi’s former campaign manager, who had absolutely no previous experience cultivating land.

The biggest scandal of Mengyi’s political career, one that might even cost him his freedom, was revealed recently by 168 Óra. The crux of the matter is that social cooperatives wanted to apply last year for EU money. They claim that Mengyi would have helped in the disbursement if they gave back at first 50 percent and finally 90 percent of the money won. Instead of offering to help with an existing tender, a separate HUF 500 million ($1.8 million) tender was written for the cooperative that sought Mengyi’s help. Mengyi asked for a bribe which he referred to as “constitutional costs” (“alkotmányos költségek”) and, according to the wiretape transcripts, received HUF 5 million ($18,000), referring to himself as Lord Voldemort throughout. Roland Mengyi denies the whole Voldemort story and said he is prepared to undergo any investigation. Barnabás Futó, Mengyi’s lawyer, claims that the transcripts only refer to Mengyi, but that he himself never spoke. However, according to 168 Óra’s latest article, Mengyi participated in one of the telephone conversations.

August 18, 2016
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Jean P.
Guest

Fidesznik’s standard answer to such stories: “There are so many rumors”.

pappp
Guest

Mengyi a just a small fish. Seeing the amounts involved, this is just change we talk about here. Even third rate fideszniks receive orders of magnitude more money.

He’s also a belügyes, that is part of the state security apparatus. Once a belügyes, always a belügyes.

He knows that he was assigned a new role now by his superiors, but he also knows that eventually he will be OK.

He is under orders not to talk and he now follows orders. He is unlikely to go to pretrial detention, let alone to prison. Lawyers together with the prosecution will solve the case smartly.

It will be a little uncomfortable for Mengyi, sure, but he knows he made mistakes. He was too clumsy and carried away and not careful enough like Antal Rogan or Janos Lazar or Sesztak, so he will have to suffer a bit. He understands that.

But Fidesz always without fail takes care of their own and Mengyi knows that so he is not worried too much. It’s summer, nobody even cares about such complex stories about totally unknown fideszniks.

Guest

In other words:

A “very nice” typical mafia story …

Guest

It looks evident that if Fidesz has an oath its got to be this one.

‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good’
Moony, Wormtail,Padfoot and Prongs and Lord Voldemort

Observer
Guest

This is the Orban regime reality par excellence. It also shows that every fidesznik above bearfoot party soldier is a thief.

The only Q. I have is why all this came out at all.

rowland
Guest

Mengyi will of course walk free as there is no smoking gun evidence that he took money. The wiretap in itself proves nothing and nobody will back up the story about any bribery.

If anything Orban now can prove that he is tough on corruption and it will be the independent courts that will fail to convict Mengyi – there will simply be not enough evidence.

Communists (or Lajos Simicska) need to come up with better stories. They should’ve been smarter about the prosecution but they never had a clue about how the legal system works. Now it’s just too late. The future is not the commies’ time.

http://444.hu/2016/08/19/mengyi-voldemort-roland-nem-fogadtam-el-kenopenzt

petofi
Guest

Or, the story might be that Orban wants to rid himself of this guy for whatever reason…

webber
Guest

Could be that Mengyi “forgot” to give the usual cut of the kickback to party coffers. Had he done so, he would have been untouchable.

tappanch
Guest

How dare Mengyi call himself Lord Voldemort ?

Lord Voldemort is Viktor Orban himself, of course.

Viktor must be infurious, that is why the investigation.

Guest

“infurious”?

Wow, that must be really something … 🙂

tappanch
Guest

infurious = infuriated & furious

webber
Guest

As far as I know there’s no such word – infuriated means made furious – but it’s an interesting creation. English is very flexible, words are created all the time, and there’s no telling what people will use.
Still “infurious” sounds more like “not furious” to me.

webber
Guest

Well, that shows what I know!
The Urban Dictionary says “infurious” is slang for “incredibly furious.”

So, it is known slang (and as such, acceptable), just slang I’ve never heard before.

petofi
Guest

English is based on Latin. As a prefix, “in” means
“not”.

petofi
Guest

I agree. Often, ‘in’ at the beginning of a word means ‘not’…as in, inoffensive, inauspicious, inglorious etc.

tappanch
Guest

The Orban government breached its own election law (no campaign up to 50 days before a referendum or election) 10,481 times between May 13 and August 13.

television commercials: 6224
ads in public spaces: 2078
radio: 1403
newspapers: 542
magazines: 53
on line: uncounted

http://www.kreativ.hu/media/cikk/9_nap_alatt_4219_masodperc_felelem

Government commercials supporting its position in the October 2 referendum took up 20% of the commercial time during the widely-watched olympic broadcasts.

Member

tappanch, you missed the memo. It is not campaign! It is information given to the people! (Coincidently the head of the communication agency the government choose for this information distribution is no other than Rogan’s neighbour.) The campaign likely will be run by an other agency. I just cannot wait how can they make their campaign any more visible than their information distribution…
http://hirtv.hu/ahirtvhirei/kormany-ez-nem-kampany-csak-tajekoztatas-1356711

tappanch
Guest

Re: referendum.

Before the numbers of eligible voters change, write them down for further, i.e. 2018 reference.

As of 7 AM, August 19, 2016.

There are 8 004 507 (April 6, 2014: 8 019 564) voters with addresses in Hungary. (Only 16.75% of them in Budapest). Out of the several hundred thousand people working abroad, only 1 074 registered to vote abroad.

There are also 269 938 (April 6, 2014: 193 793) people, who are allowed to vote in mail. (Miraculously, 95% of them voted for Fidesz in 2014, if they sent in a valid vote at all.)

http://www.valasztas.hu/hu/ref2016/1144/1144_0_index.html
http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/onepsz201610/vertaj/hu/v2m.html

http://www.valasztas.hu//hu/ogyv2014/861/861_0_index.html
http://www.valasztas.hu//hu/ogyv2014/770/770_0_index.html

Remark: the number of eligible voters has declined by 0.19% in the last 28 months, while the number of people in Hungary has gone down by 0.47% in 2 years.

This discrepancy requires further investigation and explanation.

http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_eves/i_wnt001b.html

tappanch
Guest

Employment situation, new official data for June 2016.

Without “fostered” workers:
Employed by enterprises : 1977.9, up 3.4% y/y
Employed by the state: 688.9, down by 1.0%
Employed by non-profits, up by 12.6%

Fostered workers: 218.2, up by 10.1 % 4/4

tappanch
Guest

Employed by non-profits,108.5 up by 12.6%
Fostered workers: 218.2, up by 10.1 % y/y

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