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Hungarian billionaires appear in Panama Papers leak

History

Links to a handful of Hungary’s wealthiest individuals have recently been uncovered amid the reams of documents contained in the Panama Papers leaks as either having offshore interests or being linked to offshore consultant firm Mossack Fonseca, investigative journalism organization Direkt36 reported this morning.

Hungary’s wealthiest man Sándor Csányi is connected to one of the offshore companies on the list through his wife Érika Csányi, whose company Durion Services, which was later dissolved, provided contracts for crew members of a yacht allegedly owned by Csányi, according to direkt36.hu.

National Bank of Hungary Governor György Matolcsy made a statement following the Panama Papers leak that neither he, nor his family, had offshore interests, according to a report. However, Matolcsy’s cousin Tibor Szemery has been identified as the former director and shareholder of Sunjoy Development, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, from 2009 to 2010. In a written statement, Szemery said the company did not have a bank account and that his cousin Matolcsy was unaware of the existence of this firm, according to direkt36.hu.

Wealthy banker Zoltán Spéder is said to have links to two offshore firms, one of them Whitestone International, which is indirectly connected to online news site index.hu, direkt36.hu reported. Spéder denied ownership of Whitestone, which is registered in the Seychelles, however, he did have power of attorney documents for the firm as he did for Novum Asset Management, registered in the British Virgin Islands, the investigative journalism site reported.

Online porn magnate György Gattyán was also in touch with Mossack Fonseca through another law firm in 2013 after he had moved to the United States, according to direkt36.hu. Avid art collector and former banker Gábor Kovács is also connected to the Panama Papers law firm through four of his companies, which became shareholders of Seychelles firm Trewfield Corporation in 2012, according to direkt36.hu.

Direkt36 discovered links to other Hungarians shortly after the leak in early April, including Zsolt Horváth, who was named the director of a company based in the Seychelles Islands in 2013 while he was still a Fidesz MP and László Boldvai, who has since resigned as an MP with the opposition Socialist Party and is indirectly connected through his wife Csilla Konti. Konti had acquired an offshore firm registered in Samoa while employed as a secondary school teacher in rural Hungary, direkt36.hu revealed.

The database of offshore investment consultant firm Mossack Fonseca based in Panama was first leaked to two staffers from German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in early 2015 and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was called in to help comb through the documents. Senior Editor of Direkt36 András Pethő was the only Hungarian journalist invited to the ICIJ meeting in September.

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