Viktor Orbán’s new neighbor: Ghaith Pharaon, fugitive from justice

During the summer Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, was searching for new business opportunities. By that time, OLAF, the European Union’s Anti-Fraud Office, was looking into his “super company,” which had received almost all of the contracts for the EU-financed modernization of city lighting in Hungary. The first son-in-law had to find greener pastures, preferably far away from public procurements. The choice, it seems, was real estate. Investigative journalists discovered that Tiborcz was doing lucrative deals with the assistance of a wealthy Turkish businessman. One of their first real estate ventures was the purchase of the building of the defunct Postabank, which soon enough they sold, through an intermediary, to Ghaith Pharaon, a Saudi businessman of dubious repute.

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 they were insolvent. Pharaon was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit racketeering. He has been wanted by the FBI since 1991 for his role in the BCCI fraud 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. Earlier I wrote in more detail about Pharaon’s business activities in Hungary.

Trouble seems to follow István Tiborcz. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that he has a penchant for dealing with questionable characters.

It seems that in the last four or five months Pharaon has been busy. He is currently the owner of nine extremely valuable pieces of property in Hungary. His latest purchase is a mansion right across from the house owned by Viktor Orbán and his family. I suspect that the mansion was a state property that earlier was used as a kindergarten. Orbán himself liked the building so much that during his first administration he planned to refurbish it and use it as the official residence of the speaker of the house. The place has been abandoned for almost 20 years and, judging from the photos, it needs extensive repairs. During the summer the property’s listing price was 410 million forints or $1.45 million.

The mansion Pharaon bought

The mansion Ghaith Pharaon bought

Once it became public knowledge that Pharaon is now Orbán’s neighbor, interest in his past spiked even though it has been a well-known fact in Hungary, at least since June 2016, that Pharaon is on the FBI’s wanted list. But the opposition parties finally started asking questions about Pharaon’s close business ties not only with the prime minister’s son-in-law but also with the Hungarian government and MOL, the Hungarian oil company.

Pharaon is not a simple foreign investor wanting to make some money in Hungary. He is in possession of a valid visa issued to him by the Hungarian government. At the time they issued the visa, Hungarian authorities were aware of the fact that Pharaon was being sought not only by the FBI but apparently also by Interpol because of his relations with terrorists, including at one time with Osama bin Laden. Péter Juhász of Együtt got hold of a letter from Sándor Pintér, minister of interior, strangely enough written in Hungarian, to the Saudi ambassador in Budapest confirming their knowledge. Pintér wanted to have the Saudi government’s opinion in the case. The answer had to be reassuring because Pharaon received a visa without any trouble. But why would it not have been reassuring since, according to information that can be found in Stratfor Intelligence Files made public by WikiLeaks, “Ghaith Pharaon is not a genuine businessman … he is nothing more than a front man who does dirty things on behalf of Saudi Arabia.”

All the talk about Pharaon being on the FBI’s most wanted list eventually prompted Hungarian journalists to approach the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, requesting information about Pharaon’s current status. Eric Watnik, counselor for public affairs, who is in charge of the press and information office at the embassy, gave the following information on Pharaon. On November 15, 1991 the District of Columbia court issued an arrest warrant signed by Alan Kay, magistrate judge. “This arrest warrant is still valid,” he added. Since then the charges against Pharaon have multiplied (conspiracy, wire fraud, racketeering conspiracy, aiding and abetting) and by now, if arrested and charged, he could face at least 30 years in jail. In addition, according to Watnik, Interpol issued a Red Notice (A355/8-1992) which, according to Interpol’s website, seeks “the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.” Although the Red Notice has since disappeared from the Interpol website, Watnik noted that Hungary has an extradition treaty with the United States and thus, had it been asked, would have been obliged to agree to the extradition of Pharaon.

Once this letter from Pintér to the Saudi ambassador became public, both Jobbik and MSZP wanted to know more about the case. Jobbik’s Márton Gyöngyösi couldn’t get an answer from Viktor Orbán himself, but Tamás Harangozó of MSZP lucked out. He wanted to know whether the prime minister had ever had a personal meeting with Pharaon. Harangozó said he wanted to have a serious answer because Orbán, instead of giving substantive responses, often cracks jokes or makes ironic remarks. Orbán admitted that he had met “Professor Pharaon” at a banquet, which surely cannot pose a national security risk. Harangozó hit back: in that case, Orbán and the government itself is the national security risk. Eventually, Orbán claimed that “the whole Pharaon affair is an American secret service game.” If the FBI is truly seeking his extradition, how is it possible that Pharaon has remained free for the last 24 years?

The case was even discussed in the parliamentary committee on national security where Szilárd Németh, the committee’s Fidesz deputy chairman, expressed his belief that Viktor Orbán’s neighbor may be only the namesake of the real Ghaith Pharaon. Of course, a simple fingerprint comparison could put an end to any doubt but, according the U.S. Embassy, the Hungarian authorities refuse to cooperate. In fact, the Hungarian government is actively shielding Pharaon from “harassment.” When Jobbik wanted to place a public announcement in which Pharaon’s name was mentioned, MTI OS (Országos Sajtószolgálat) refused to publish it because “they need to protect the privacy rights of public figures.” Why is Pharaon a public figure? The only thing that comes to my mind is the phrase “public enemy.”

October 29, 2016
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Observer
Guest

Ghait Faraon, Alfonce Puilly, Pecina, etc shady characters and dozens of unknown offshore companies are the partners of Orbán’s mafia state channelling billions of public money into private accounts abroad. Most of this money is EU taxpayers’ money.
What a shame.

Kristallnacht
Guest

Such misinformation! This Faraon likely doesn’t even exist, and if he does he has nothing to do with Hungary or the government !
You call yourself an academic? What are your qualifications?

webber
Guest

He exists. Orban admitted he does. There are photos of him with Tiborcz. The press has uncovered quite a lot.
Kristallnacht – another German Nazi name for a troll here! And you chose that name for yourself? What does that say about you, personally?
Look up Eva’s qualifications for yourself. They are openly available.

Kristallnacht
Guest

My username is to show my support for lustration!
Photos can be photoshopped and Orban never said that.

webber
Guest

Orban said he wasn’t sure this Faraon was that Faraon. So, he exists.
Your username shows support for Nazism.
Orban and Fidesz oppose lustration – they have voted against it every time a lustration law came before parliament, and in the three cycles Fidesz has held the government, not once did they propose lustration legislation.

webber
Guest

“Orbán Viktor azt mondja, a szomszédjába költözött arab üzletembert a magyar titkosszolgálatok megvizsgálták, és nem találtak semmi gyanúsat nála.”
So, Faraon exists, according to Orbán himself. (also Pharaon – several spellings are used as the man’s name is Arabic, and can be spelled in various ways in Latin letters)
http://hirtv.hu/ahirtvhirei/orban-amerikai-jatszma-a-pharaon-ugy-1368053

webber
Guest

P.S. Do you sometimes also post under the name Palika? I wonder, because something you wrote above is remarkably similar to something Palika wrote.

Guest

Kristallnacht: “What are your qualifications?”

What are your qualifications for assuming the name Kristallnacht?

Member
Member

Pharaon, the Pakistani atomic bomb and Osama bin Laden

http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=ghaith_pharaon_1

Member

“Al Martin also points out that the common agent between the Bush Family, the Carlyle Group and the Bin Laden organization was former Saudi chief of intelligence Ghaith Pharaon. ”

http://www.conspiracydigest.com/carlyle_group.html

Member

Orban’s street has been under TEK (“antiterrorist” unit created for Orban’s former bodyguard) protection since October 3, 2013.

In other words, Orban protects Pharaon.

Member

There was an earlier closure from August 10, 2012

http://tek.gov.hu/pdf/Cinege2.pdf

Member

The destruction of the the closed Dagaly spa goes ahead at full speed:

29/10/2016
“szükségessé vált a DS területén meglévő 50 m-es külső medence átalakítása és ennek a VB rendezvényeibe történő bekapcsolása. Ezáltal e terület is versenyterületté minősült, mely miatt szükséges a megfelelő összeköttetés kialakítása a többi úszólétesítménnyel, az egységes biztonsági és beléptetési rendszer megteremtése.”

http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:382012-2016:TEXT:HU:HTML&src=0

The total cost of the 2017 Swimming Championship stands at 90 billion forints, which include huge profits to Orban’s handpicked front men.

Istvan
Guest

Then I read this story http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1110366-drogot-arultak-a-pultosok-a-fovarosi-szorakozohelyeken—video about police in Budapest discovering that bartenders were selling drugs in the capital’s nightclubs. Well not only drugs but pimping prostitutes too and that is well known. The real question is who did these clubs not payoff to merit such a raid?

The corruption of Ghaith Pharaon and István Tiborcz is the relatively clean aspect of the rampant corruption in Budapest and Hungary. By the way is there little doubt that the Russian mafia linked to the Putin regime somehow gets a cut of all of this too, (See http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gangs-russia-ruthless-mafia-networks-extending-their-influence-1495644 this 2006 paper discussed in detail the Russian role in the drug trade http://www.policy.hu/golunov/golunov_researchpaper.pdf )

Guest

Not too much OT (I wrote about this already):

The British husband of one of my sisters steadfastly ignores all our invitations to see us in Hungary – my sister flies over without him …
He visited us in Germany several times but he has such bad memories of Budapest where he worked for several years for one of the big “Global Players” – after three years he got sent to another country like all his colleagues so not to get involved with the locals …

He said it often that in the 90s corruption in Hungary was almost worse than in Africa where he also did his job as an accountant!

And it seems it really got worse, that’s what I hear from our young ones!

webber
Guest

István – no doubt, some bars do. Some bars also sell cheap alcohol. I, personally, have witnessed a bartender pouring a brown fluid from a large plastic container into a Unicum bottle. Never went to that bar again. Even beer on tap can be dodgy. Best to buy beer in bottles.

There is a new police “action” to uncover this sort of thing. Doubtless needed, but… I somehow cannot get over the feeling that the real aim of this is to eliminate bars not owned by Fidesz people, or which are not paying kickbacks to the right people.

Guest

100% correct – I hear the same from friends in Bp!

The police have to “protect your place” or else …

Istvan
Guest

Webber on the scale of indignities corrupting Unicum rates on the scale of the poisoned paprika back in 1994. We all recall the paprika laced with lead-based paint. I just happened to be visiting Hungary during the paprika scandal and I asked one relative if she was worried and she replied – gulyás nem öl, nem az enyém, legalább.

webber
Guest

And the lead-paint paprika wasn’t caught by Hungarian authorities – it was caught by the Slovenes, who found a huge shipment of the stuff had high levels of lead. After that, the Hungarian govt. introduced a law that all paprika had to be more carefully inspected, effectively shutting down a lot of small producers. We were assured that paprika from the large companies, especially labeled “szegedi” and “kalocsai” was perfectly safe. Then came the next scandal – a huge amount of “szegedi” paprika from a major company was, it turned out, paprika from South America. This wasn’t the problem. The problem was that it was moldy paprika from South America – paprika that the suppliers there gave away to anybody who would take it, because it was expensive to dispose of. Well, that mold, it turned out, was highly toxic – caused liver failure.

Hungaricum.

safranek
Guest
I think Faraon’s real estate on Kútvölgyi út actually belongs to the Orban family. Faraon (more precisely his lawyer) is just a Strohmann for Orban in this deal. Faraon and Orban have some joint investments in real estate through which they can launder money but this particular piece of real estate is much too close to Orban’s known Budapest residence. I’m not 100% sure that Orban and his family actually live there in district 12 in their old building because they have a few, much bigger mansions in Fejér county where Orban grew up so I think they spend most of the time in these new, totally secluded properties which are not too far away from Budapest so they can actually commute to work on a daily basis. I think Orban long wanted to buy the property on Kútvölgyi út because part of the property is a huge plot which is now very rare this part of the district. Their house on Cinege street is just too small – for Orban’s current status as an immensely rich tyrant that is. But publicly Orban couldn’t spend close to HUF 400m on it – so he found some friendly hand to buy… Read more »
Guest

Thanks for the info!

The corruption in Fidesz Hungary is really unbelievable – and totally out in the open …

Are (most) Hungarians really that stupid/ignorant sheep?

Guest

They are neither stupid nor ignorant sheep. They are willfully ignorant people.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Willful_ignorance

Guest

A difficult question imho. My wife says it’s stupidity couple with lack of schooling/development.

And if you look at the US – here’s an analysis in the WashPost with interesting numbers:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/29/clinton-47-trump-45-in-post-abc-tracking-poll/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_1_na

Trump leads by a wide, 82-12 percent margin among white evangelical protestants, slightly wider than Romney’s 78-21 advantage in 2012. Clinton dominates among voters with no religious affiliation, leading by more than 3 to 1 (66 to 18 percent), a similar edge as Obama in 2012 (70-26)

and
The one clear shift from 2012 is a sharp educational split among whites that has been tracked all year. Whites with college degrees favor Clinton by double digits (53-41), while non-college-educated whites favor Trump by more than 30 points (62 to 28). The split was far smaller in 2012, when Romney won both groups: white college grads by 14 points and non-college grads by 25.

And there more numbers which show who really votes for Trump!

Phunky
Guest

Correct me if I’m wrong but the mansion in the 1970-1980’s was a Ministry of Interior kindergarten. It was managed by BM I-4. – Üdültetési és Gyermekneveltetési Osztály. At least in XII. Cinege utca there used to be a BM óvoda and I’m guessing this was it because the huge property on which the mansion is located is accessible from Cinege utca but can’t be accessed from Kútvölgyi út even though officially it is located on Kútvölgyi út.

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