The National Assembly voted to lift former Deputy Justice Minister Pál Völner’s immunity in the bribery charges against him. A detailed list of his bribery charges was published, which found that he could have accepted bribes on the day he took his parliamentary oath. According to a law expert, a potential conviction could cost even more for Völner than just a prison sentence.
Völner’s immunity was lifted with 128 votes in favor.
The Prosecution argues that the Chamber President used illegal payments to secure the minister’s constant availability in helping secure his interests. In exchange for this support, they say the Hungarian Court Bailiff’s Chamber (MBVK) President György Schadl would influence the Chamber to the benefit of Völner’s official position.
The Prosecution also accuses Völner of using his position to influence funding applications and other jurisdictional procedures to Schadl’s benefit. The two are believed to have been cooperating outside of their work, meeting in restaurants or by Völner’s car. Over time they created and operated a hierarchy in which the former minister’s only contact for communication was the Chamber President.
In addition to what we reported earlier about the charges, the concrete cases and amounts have also been published. According to these, Schadl gave Völner the following amounts:
- HUF 5,000,000 (EUR 13,600) on May 22, 2018
- HUF 2,500,000 on August 13, 2018
- HUF 2,500,000 on December 5, 2018
- HUF 2,500,000 on January 30, 2019
- HUF 2,500,000 on March 1, 2019,
- HUF 2,500,000 on September 23, 2019
- HUF 2,000,000 on November 20, 2019,
- HUF 2,500,000 on December 4, 2019,
- HUF 5,000,000 at the beginning of January 2020
- HUF 5,000,000 on February 11, 2020
- HUF 3,000,000 on March 27, 2020
- HUF 5,000,000 on June 16, 2020
- HUF 3,000,000 on August 11, 2020
- HUF 3,000,000 on October 1, 2020
- HUF 3,000,000 on November 5, 2020
- HUF 3,000,000 on February 4, 2021
- HUF 3,000,000 on March 10, 2021
- HUF 3,000,000 on April 15, 2021
- HUF 3,000,000 in May 2021,
- HUF 3,000,000 on June 2, 2021,
- HUF 3,000,000 on July 13, 2021.
The total amount comes to HUF 83 million (EUR 226 thousand).
After checking these dates and numbers, 444.hu showed another interesting feature: Völner may have accepted a bribe on the very day of taking the parliamentary oath too.
Despite being a hefty sum, it is still very much dwarfed by the amount the MBVK leader could have received, as Schadl may have pocketed some HUF 880 million (EUR 2.4 million) in total, according to the Prosecution.
The Prosecution also accuses Schadl of accepting money in exchange for appointments, from which he could pay Völner as well. Based on this, through Völner, he could have arranged the appointment of independent bailiffs at the Győr, Monor, Szekszárd, Szigetszentmiklós, Cegléd, and Fonyód District Courts, and the Central District Court of Buda. For all this, Schadl could have gotten some HUF 800 million in total from the offices of these bailiffs.
In addition, they had an acquaintance who knew about the Schadl-Völner alliance, and indicated to them that an acquaintance was willing to pay HUF 150 million (EUR 409,000) to arrange for the Matrix Training Center to obtain the permits to start some trainings. To this end, Völner is suspected to have consulted several officials in the Ministry of Human Capacities and the Ministry of Innovation and Technology. And he regularly informed Schadl about the state of the case.
Severance payments for Völner?
Another question is the severance pay Völner is due to get. As an outgoing state secretary, he is entitled to HUF 3.9 million (EUR 10,600) gross.
In addition, all the MPs are entitled to receive some HUF 3.7 million (EUR 10,000) gross at the end of each parliamentary cycle. If Völner decides not to resign from his mandate before the upcoming elections, he would also receive this amount.
Fidesz doesn’t require its MPs to resign only until they are charged in a case. This is how Roland Mengyi
, György Simonka
, and István Boldog
could keep their mandates after their cases were brought to light. Because of this, Fidesz can keep its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, although with the vote of German representative Imre Ritter, and probably with János Volner
‘s, they could do so without these charged politicians, too.
In reaction, the Socialists (MSZP) proposed a resolution that would only allow such allowances to be paid after the defendant’s acquittal.
Law expert Hack: No precedent in legal history
According to law professor Péter Hack, the charge against Völner is punishable by 5 to 10 years of imprisonment.
The former leading liberal politician says the charges are very serious but difficult to prove. But the circumstances suggest that there is a lot of evidence, as in a case of this magnitude the prosecution wouldn’t have initiated a lift of immunity otherwise.
There is no precedent in Hungarian legal history where such a high-ranking official of the Justice Ministry has been accused of such a serious crime.
According to the Criminal Procedures and Corrections lawyer, it could take some time before the case makes it to the court stage. But a conviction would definitely cost a lot for Völner, as lawyers usually require a certificate of good conduct.
featured image via Noémi Bruzák/MTI