The document the US Embassy handed over to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry as justification for introducing an entry ban on certain individuals lacks credibility, according to Hungary’s national tax office (NAV). The list of reasons for the ban which also covers the chief of the tax office is “based on rumours and assumptions rather than facts,” NAV said. Meanwhile PM Viktor Orbán referred to the purported embassy document as “a scrap of paper with no stamp or signature.” Moreover, ruling FIDESZ party lawmaker Szilárd Németh has said that André Goodfriend, the American charge d’affaires in Budapest, was playing from former Socialist PM “Ferenc Gyurcsány’s playbook.”
The National Tax Office (NAV) said in a statement that “the US brief provides superficial, incomplete and partly erroneous information in support of its corruption allegations.” Countering charges that it has failed to act on suspected cases of corruption, NAV prevented the illegal sale of nearly 4 billion forints worth of tobacco products this year, it said. Further, based on complaints by US-owned companies and as a result of audits started in 2011, financial investigators at NAV have revealed a gang involved in VAT fraud exceeding 2 billion forints and there are currently 14 suspects in the case. Additionally NAV has revealed hundreds of million forints of unpaid tax during audits and penalty procedures, it added. Police have been investigating allegations by former NAV employee András Horváth. “As it turned out, the US embassy’s charge d’affaires had no information about this,” NAV said.
The US embassy in response said it would not comment on its communications with the Hungarian government. “We generally do not comment on private communications between governments or with private individuals,” the US embassy’s spokesperson said in a statement.“As we have noted before, however, the U.S. government is in close, frequent contact with the Hungarian government at many levels on the whole range of issues on which we cooperate, including the fight against corruption, and we will continue to work closely with the Hungarian government on these issues,” Elizabeth Webster said.
via hungarymatters.hu photo: building of U.S embassy in Budapest (source: hungary.usembassy.gov)