A new job for OLAF? Győző Orbán, the father of Viktor Orbán

Today’s Financial Times carries a lengthy portrait of Viktor Orbán by Neil Buckley, FT’s East European editor, and Andrew Byrne, the paper’s correspondent for Hungary, Romania, and Western Balkans. In this overview of the political career of Hungary’s maverick prime minister, the authors quote George Soros, who said that Orbán “started really going wrong when he made his father rich by giving him a quasi-monopoly on road-building materials, which was a big source of wealth. That’s when [he] started building a mafia state. It’s really when he actually gained power.”

As a matter of fact, immoral financial dealings have been part and parcel of Orbán’s whole career. In 1990 the new democratic parties were penniless and, in order to conduct their activities, they all received a large amount of seed money. Fidesz’s share was half of a very valuable downtown building, which the party sold for cash. Out of this money, quite fraudulently, a few million forints was given to Viktor Orbán’s father, Győző Orbán, who was short of the cash he needed to purchase a stone quarry owned by the state, of which he was the manager at the time.

As time went by, Orbán’s financial appetite grew. After he became prime minister in 1998, he was in the perfect position to work on fattening himself, his friends, and his family through inside information. He was especially interested in agricultural land because he knew that the landowners would receive considerable EU subsidies in the future.

His father’s quarry, just as George Soros remembered, became practically the sole supplier of crushed stone to state-owned companies involved in government-funded road construction. Once all this was discovered, there was an outcry, especially after the 2000 publication of a book on the shady affairs of the “first family.” Orbán, who in those days was a great deal less brazen, had a talk with his father which, according to the prime minister, wasn’t pleasant. His father couldn’t understand why he couldn’t continue supplying crushed rock for government projects.

Father and son

Although there has been less talk about Győző Orbán’s business activities since his son’s return to power, some investigative journalists are convinced that Orbán’s father still has his finger in the “government project” pie. The journalists who are most curious about the business affairs of the extended Orbán family work for Direkt36. It is a center for investigative journalists who work hand in hand with 444, the internet news site. Direct36 has a separate column called “business concerns of the Orbán family.” Two journalists, András Pethő and Blanka Zöldi, are especially busy collecting data on the elder Győző Orbán and his two sons, Győző, Jr., and Áron. Many of their articles can be found here. (As a point of linguistic and psychological curiosity: Győző is the Hungarian equivalent of Victor/Viktor. So Elder Győző named two of his sons after himself.)

In May of last year the journalists of Direkt36 reported that Győző’s crushed rock and concrete building materials were being transported to government projects, most of which are financed by European Union funds, like sewage systems and railroad construction in Érd, Budapest, Jászberény, and Püspökladány. While visiting these sites, the journalists noticed trucks with the name “Nehéz Kő” (Heavy Stone) delivering large amounts of crushed rock and building materials to the government projects. The journalists found out that the trucking company belonged to Áron Orbán (subsequently, it seems, Győző Orbán became the owner), and they suspected that the material Nehéz Kő was carrying came from Dolomit Kft., Győző Orbán’s company.

Dolomit was active throughout the country, but the journalists were especially interested in a mega-project, the construction of a 53 km  railroad line between Szántód and Balatonszentgyörgy with an estimated cost of 72.4 billion forints. The work is being done by a consortium of three firms: R-Kord Építőipari Kft., V-Híd Zrt., and Swietelsky Vasúttechnikai Kft. R-Kord is owned by (who else?) Lőrinc Mészáros.

Direkt36 suspected that they had just encountered a tightly-knit family business, but the reporters were unable to get hold of the documentation necessary to show that the elder Orbán was actually doing business with the government. Today, after months of litigation, Direkt36 received proof that, despite the denial by the prime minister, Nehéz Kő is one of the subcontractors of this EU-funded government project. By setting up a trucking company that doesn’t display the Dolomit name, the Orbáns presumably wanted to hide the fact that the material comes from the family company.

Last summer Blanka Zöldi of Direct36 confronted the prime minister with her findings that Győző Orbán is the supplier of stone and building material to important government projects. Viktor Orbán, during that Q&A session, made a distinction between general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. Hungarian law forbids, he claimed, the participation of close relatives of important political figures from being general and subcontractors, but not from being suppliers. Clearly, he said, his father and brother have no business dealings with the government. They have a contract with one of the general contractors. But the documents received today show that Nehéz Kő was a subcontractor on the southern Balaton railroad project to the tune of 300 million forints or $1.2 million.

The Demokratikus Koalíció, which helped call attention to the shady business dealings of Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, is ready to turn to OLAF again. The party’s spokesman declared that “there is no civilized, democratic country where, after such a revelation, the prime minister remains in office. … The money coming from [Brussels] goes toward the enrichment of his family.”

This may be the case (although Trump stretches the limits of what it means to personally benefit from political office), but Hungary at the moment doesn’t belong to the group of civilized and democratic countries. In a mafia state, a designation popularized by Bálint Magyar, earlier minister of education, like-minded people in high political office work together for their own and their families’ enrichment. Here we have the quarry business of Győző Orbán, whose initial capital came from his son’s newly-formed party. His company, Dolomit, supplies stone and cement products to government projects, which are being trucked by his company, Nehéz Kő. The goods are taken to the work site of the firm owned by Lőrinc Mészáros, who is suspected of being the stróman or front man of Viktor Orbán. All in the family.

January 25, 2018
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Member

All of this is like water off the duck’s back. No investigation will be conducted properly and no penalties will be given, after OLAF proves that the corruption is a fact. Everybody knows, that the viktor’s family is doing business, and big time, with the thieves and hoodlums masquarading as the Hungarian Government.

Delta sounds
Guest

In naming two of his sons after himself, old man Orban may have followed the example of boxer George Foreman, who named his five sons George II-VI and a daughter Georgetta.
Too bad Gyozo lacked Foreman’s stamina, but maybe that’s good. We can’t all be heavyweight champions. But what’s with Biblical names like Aron and Rahel in a society that disparages the descendants of Hebrew matriarchs and patriarchs? What gives? Please explain next time.

Red
Guest

Not to worry, the Catholic Aniko Levai and the reformed VO have managed to hybrid Gaspar, the csodagyerek that is creating a sect of his own. I guess that’s a very innovative way of creating a future lucrative business.
http://valasz.hu/itthon/aldas-bekesseg-118437

Guest

But what will come of going to OLAF? Isn’t that also controlled by the government, as is the judiciary?

And where is the EU auditing body, in all this mafia enterprise?

Guest

OLAF is the European Anti-Fraud Office but it relies on the judiciary in the Member-States to do its work. So if the judiciary in Hungary is controlled by Fidesz, it’s easy to understand OLAF’s action is hindered to say the least.

dos929
Guest
So, what else is new? The corrupt practices of the Orban-family and the Fidesz are going on from as long as the change of the regime in the early 1990’s. This latest revelation is just a drop in the ocean of the regime’s corruption rituals that measured not by millions of forints, but by hundreds of millions of €’s. If the OLAF really wanted to investigate the Orban regime’s fraudulent mafia-system, they could have done it a long time ago, but certainly 7+ years ago already. As usual, ‘we’ are all playing around with the fringes of this scandal instead of dealing with the central problem of nurturing a mafia state in a (seemingly) democratic EU. Were we in the Peoples Republic of China, these gangsters would have been executed a long time ago, just like the corrupt communist party leaders were… So far the EU organisations and EU leaders together with the Hungarian opposition parties did nothing tangible to address the central problem of the illegitimacy of the Orban-regime. I must return to my frequently repeated question; how long any of the democratic EU country governments could survive even a week if they would be party only to a… Read more »
bimbi
Guest
In the midst of all the gloom that pervades us these days, there is some good news for Hungarian speakers of this blog: The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling left some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as “Euro-English”. In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump for joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter. In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Kongratula.. I don’t know how to spell this in Eurish.
Hungary can suggest to do away with the name Smith, or change it to Smis since this is the way dei pronounce it here.

wrfree
Guest

Hehe good one! Zee langwich eet iz growin’..
Hoagy vuggy minden keet eeten..😎

Guest

You made my day! 🙂

Zis reminded me of ze old adage:
Ve haf vays to mek yu shpik!
So ve rili von ze vo!

Istvan
Guest
Unfortunately Soros helped to create Orban by nurturing him early on during the Kadar regime. I totally agree with Eva’s comment on the Soros claim that the critical origins of Orban’s corruption lie with his enrichment of his father. Sometimes in life we have to accept the fact that one of the horses we have backed in a race went lame and all is lost. The most nightmarish example for myself as a US citizen of backing a disaster was the US CIA Operation Cyclone where we armed and financed the mujahideen, in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, prior to and during the military intervention by the USSR in support of its client, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The program leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups that were favored by the regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in neighboring Pakistan, and this helped lead to the rise of Bin Laden and the rest is history. These types of failures have happened over and over again in history. Another of the more tragic picking the wrong horses was China’s backing and nurturing of the mad man Pol Pot in Cambodia. Soros needs to confront his own demons, it is not an easy… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Sorry, Istvan, but the most horrific backing was that of Trump.
The trouble lies down the road, but if he stays long enough,
he’ll put the US on the mafia-dominated path of Russia and Hungary…

Istvan
Guest

I don’t think you are talking about Soros backing Trump, but enough US voters doing so in the various States for him to win the electoral college vote and become President, right? I don’t disagree with you about that assuming that is what he mean.

Observer
Guest

Istvan
First of all there is no sure thing in international politics, you win some you lose some (although I think the policies in Afghanistan were doomed to fail).
Second, you are on the wrong path re Soros – he supported all or many democratic groups in the European Communist countries, in Hu Orban was just one of the hundreds or thousands of members at the time, note that Orban was prominent in the international liberal organization in the 90s (although some say he was a prick even then).

petofi
Guest

Suggesting that Soros’ backing of Orban at a Brit university is responsible for anything is nonsense. I’d like to see one paper that Orban wrote at the time.
I doubt if he passed any courses in England at all..

Istvan
Guest

Soros did back numerous democratic pro-market reform opponents of the Kadar regime, I agree. The CIA backed a broad array of oppositional forces in Afghanistan, but it was the jihadists that came back to be our nightmare. Orban is Soros’ nightmare, we all have to take some responsibility for some things that evolve in wrong direction.

Istvan
Guest

By the way I would go further in world of political responsibility for Soros, and most countries recognized as democracies. We all have some responsibility for the nightmare rule in Myanmar of Aung San Suu Kyi. The Open Society Foundation was a big supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi in her campaign for democracy in Myanmar and now she is complicit with the murder of hundreds of Rohingya by the very military she opposed (see https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/press-releases/statement-george-soros-s-visit-burma ). That is backing the wrong horse for sure.

I have taken some responsibility for the killing of innocent civilians by US Army forces in Panama by troops under my immediate command during our invasion in Panama City. In the in the poor neighborhood of Chorillo I directly authorized the use of heavy weapons in response from fire from Panamanian troops and paramilitary gunmen of the so-called Dignity Battalions. Some civilians were killed by that fire. It is called “owning up,” and some of the deaths were determined to merit what were called “condolence payments” to families of those civilians killed based in part on my honest testimony.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Checked yesterday’s public/state M1-23hr news: apart from the generally known and typically “through OV&Co’s glasses” presented news, there was a for me new item “Vona confessed to Allah” (length 3 of total 15min) about a 13sec very bad recording, sourced from Mandiner
the most unbelievable thing in the item was that a representative of “Alapjogokért Központ” [Center for Fundamental Rights] was found necessary to be quoted in it (‘of course’ not in favor of Vona/Jobbik’, which seemed the whole purpose of the ‘news’ item)
HAJRA “real public media”!! (agree Julia?)

Observer
Guest

Eva,
This equivocal answer is typical Orban, but your interpretation of “Hungarian law forbids, he claimed, the participation of close relatives of important political figures from being general and subcontractors, but not from being suppliers.” is too wide, he implied the effect without mentioning the law:
D36: your father took part in the … projects. As supplier”.
OV: Did he supply to the state?
D36: He supplied to companies, which won tenders for public work projects.
OV: Then you confirm that he didn’t supply under government orders.

The cynical Orban answer is BS anyway, since any proper court will seek the real beneficiary regardless of the middlemen placed between father and son. Such legal fig leaves are just that.

wrfree
Guest

If we assume a kleptocracy it is quite evident the money makers in leadership thought quite a few steps ahead. They slinked themselves into position so they would never have to worry about it ever again. Nice work…many are called but a few , those ‘happy few’ make themselves chosen.

Guest

Has this guy been mentioned yet?
Szabolcs Panyi
His twitter account is full of very interesting info on Orbán and the speech of Soros in Davos:
https://twitter.com/panyiszabolcs

Update:
Jusr realised that he works for index and has been mentioned by Eva before, sorry.

Member

Two points.
1. Why is Lőrinc Mészáros’s massive wealth not being forensically investigated by journalists, the tax office, interpol, the EU. He’s a village idiot, gas pipe fitter. It’s so obvious.

2. Rumours that opposition parties people are funded/paid by Fidesz.
Scatter bombing money among them, offering hope of seats at the table whilst making sure any alliances are fragmented.

Marty
Guest

BC: these deals have been investigated by journalists to the hilt. So what? The prosecution protects the Orban crime family. From your first sentence I kind of surmise you still believe that in Hungary the tax authority, prosecution, courts etc. are independent. Orban owns and controls all state institutions – the general court system is the only one where he has a somewhat lesser degree of control (but the Constitutional Court is really just a Fidesz party chapter masquarading as a court). Otherwise it really takes a phone call to stop any investigation at any state institution (or start one against the opposition).

What’s obvious to you may not be so obvious before the courts. You need solid evidence and Orban is smart enough to destroy any paper trail and involve people who are absolutely, 100% reliable (very often people vetted by intelligence or working for it).