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Politicians’ Asset Declarations Followed by Controversy and Accusations Yet Again

Ábrahám Vass 2020.02.12.

While asset declarations are not sufficient enough to show the real wealth behind a politician and the various governments doing their best to hinder transparency, they still always provide a topic to talk about or to accuse opponents either perhaps reasonably, or for political purposes.

Antal Rogán

The Cabinet Minister’s wealth and his alleged connection to the residency bond scheme and suspicious downtown property dealings have long been a topic of debate in domestic politics. His latest declaration, in which he claimed a wealth of HUF 809 million (Eur 2.4 million) coming “out of nowhere” only added to this.

Rogán himself is referring partly to his invention (a process of authenticating digital signatures) he had patented a few years ago during his time in office, and the sale of his flat and holiday home following his divorce (his wife has proved to be a very talented businesswoman as well, as her first company made more than a billion HUF in income in the first year despite her lack of  any kind of work experience). However, the company background is also a topic of debate, while according to independent MP Ákos Hadházy, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is also investigating.

Furthermore, as economic investigative site G7 showed, a freshly-founded company linked to the circles of Orbán-ally businessman Lőrinc Mészáros was indeed generous with the Rogáns, and paid four times more for the property than the average square meter price in the district.

Leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) announced to initiate an asset declaration process.

Ferenc Gyurcsány

Meanwhile, Fidesz is curious to learn how DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány has “lost” one billion HUF.

It has long been known that thanks to his activities in corporate privatization and his company Altus, the former Socialist PM is very wealthy. Now, after pro-government economic site Világgazdaság first aired it, government politicians called on Gyurcsány to clarify his declaration as, in their view, he can’t account for the spending of about 1 billion HUF. As a Prime Minister in the 2000s, Gyurcsány was infamous for depleting his enormous income, with output running into about 100 million HUF (according to the current rate: EUR 295,000) a year.

Christian Democrat (KDNP) MP Lőrinc Nacsa said at a press conference that Gyurcsány’s asset declaration showed he had received HUF 2 billion (EUR 6 million) in dividends from his company last year, had bought securities for HUF 641 million (Eur 1.9 million), and paid a HUF 225 million (Eur 663 thousand) advance on a “mysterious” property. He added that apparently “one billion forints of his income has simply gone missing; it is untraceable.”

Nacsa called on Gyurcsány to itemize what he spent HUF 23 million (Eur 68 thousand) on each month. While Fidesz communications chief István Hollik, besides announcing to initiate an asset declaration process, added that Gyurcsány had acquired his billions of forints through “privatization robbery,” exploiting his “old communist party ties.”

In response, DK said in a statement that Fidesz should “look into the pockets” of politicians close to the party “if they want to see wealth concealed or of dubious origin.” Gyurcsány’s asset declaration meets all legal requirements they said, adding that “what Gyurcsány spends his legitimately earned and taxed income on is no business of … Hollik or any other member of the Fidesz mafia.”

The ‘penniless’ Prime Minister

Despite certain family members, his close friends and allies enriching year after year, the Prime Minister declared that he has no savings at all, only his two properties. When asked, the PM’s press chief, Bertalan Havasi explained that only savings exceeding the sum of an MP’s 6-month salary (6 x 989 700 HUF = EUR 18 thousand) has to be included in the asset declaration and the PM’s is well below this limit, “just like last year.”

As a result, Orbán often faces criticism by the government-critical media and opposition, ranging from jokes to corruption allegations. The satirical Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP) even announced a donation campaign for Orbán, collecting “Soros money” for him. They wrote that “for us, it’s awkward that our PM is this poor, so we decided to send him money. We hope it’s not a problem that this kind of money should only be spent on supporting illegal immigration. That always comes in handy for him anyways.”

featured image: illustration; via MTI/Tibor Illyés