Police began an investigation for embezzlement in the case surrounding House Speaker László Kövér’s associates. According to 24.hu‘s findings, a luxury property bought from donations intended for helping Hungarians abroad, is used by the Fidesz politician’s chief of staff and his family, while the foundation’s actual activities are dubious. The money came from a Taiwanese-Chinese businessman’s circle, who is a friend of the Fidesz politician.
The case is centered around the HUF 240 million (EUR 651,000) villa in Budapest’s 2nd district, which was bought by the Foundation for Hungarian Talents without Borders, officially established to support Hungarians abroad. According to 24.hu‘s investigation, however, the luxury house is used by László Veress’s family, despite the fact that he doesn’t officially have anything to do with the property.
Veress (decorated earlier for his work with Hungarian communities abroad) is House Speaker László Kövér’s chief of staff, while the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, Kálmán Visontai, is Veress’s colleague in Parliament.
In addition, the donations weren’t only used for the luxury house, but a HUF 13 million (EUR 35,300) Audi A6 was also purchased, to be then used by the aforementioned Visontai, according to the site’s findings.
A foreign-funded NGO?
There is no trace of the organization’s substantive activities, according to the site. While it was established two years ago, it apparently doesn’t have an e-mail address, and no news about its activities has been published in the media. One of its financial reports additionally reveals that Visontai’s sister-in-law had received a donation of HUF 1.8 million (EUR 4,880), although she isn’t from outside the country’s borders. The chairman explained that both his sister-in-law and her husband had lost their jobs due to the pandemic but will pay the money back.
Besides the legality of the use of these assets, the donating procedure and the actual donor company are other points of interest. Although the exact donor is yet to be revealed, the foundation received more than HUF 322 million (EUR 873,000) from the circles of Taiwanese-Chinese businessman, Frank Liu. Several recent press reports revealed that the billionaire actually maintains a close friendship with Kövér- the Fidesz strongman even nominating him for a state award, while Liu also has Hungarian citizenship.
According to the Orbán-led government’s controversial NGO law, revoked only in May 2021, the foundation should have registered itself as a foreign-funded NGO, the failure of which they explain with an administrative error.
A Chinese connection?
According to Direkt36‘s investigative journalist Szabolcs Panyi, although Frank Liu is depicted in Hungarian media as a “Taiwanese billionaire,” many of his business interests are in fact linked to the People’s Republic of China and he was even honored recently by Kövér’s initiative for his “work contributing to the development of Hungarian-Chinese economic and trade relations.” In reference to unnamed sources, Panyi himself confirmed that Liu is politically loyal to Communist-led China rather than to Taiwan.
As of now, no official charges have been made, and the police are investigating against persons unknown.
featured image: House Speaker Kövér and László Veress; via Attila Kovács/MTI