Report: NAV probe of agribusiness VAT fraud to close in weeks

Analysis

The Hungarian National Tax and Customs Authority (NAV) is expected to close a probe of HUF 18 billion in alleged VAT fraud by early February, according to a report published by Hungarian daily Magyar Idők today.

Criminal proceedings have been initiated against 33 suspects in the case, a NAV spokesman told the daily.

The investigation into major agricultural firms allegedly working with officials in VAT scams was apparently the result of complaints by U.S. agribusiness firm Bunge Limited.

A number of Hungarian and Slovak companies were investigated in the probe, Magyar Idők reported. It appears that some firms reported trades of nearly 400,000 tonnes of sunflower and rapeseed, largely through fictitious transactions, for which they reclaimed the VAT on purchases made between 2009-2012, according to the daily.

In the fall of 2014, the U.S. government used its anti-kleptocracy law to ban the entry of six Hungarian officials on suspicion of corrupt practices. At the time, the Americans did not publish the names of those who were banned, but the former head of NAV, Ildikó Vida, was said to be on the list. The decision on the ban was apparently made by U.S. officials on the basis of a complaint by Bunge about an unnamed individual who had allegedly solicited a bribe from the company to lower the VAT on cooking oil.

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