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Report: Former Fidesz politician named in offshore scandal

History

Former Fidesz MP Zsolt Horváth is one of the officials whose name has come up in the “Panama Papers” leak of 11.5 million files from the database of offshore investment consultants Mossack Fonseca, a law firm and consultancy specializing in managing offshore businesses, Hungarian investigative website direkt36.hu reported today.

According to an article in direkt36, documents the website acquired show that Horváth was named as the director of a company based in the Seychelles Islands in 2013, when he was still a Fidesz MP, but he never mentioned this in his declaration of assets. Four months after his retirement from the Hungarian Parliament, Horváth acquired ownership in another company based in the Seychelles Islands, direkt36 claims.

The website said that Horváth had not responded to questions about these allegations.

Horváth spent 16 years in Parliament as a Fidesz MP and has been out of politics for two years, direkt36 writes.

The Panama Papers were leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and with the coordination of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, more than 370 journalists from 76 countries have been processing the documents, according to The Guardian. In Hungary, direkt36 has been going through the list, and the website says that other Hungarian businesspeople and companies who are named in the papers will have their identities published in the coming weeks.

Although the usage of offshore companies is legal, these firms can also be used for illegal purposes, including sheltering income from tax authorities. According to The Guardian, the leak of Mossack Fonsecaʼs files have shown how Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently been hiding a massive amount of personal wealth. The leak also snared the prime minister of Iceland in scandal after it was alleged that he was hiding his income in offshore accounts.

There have been joint international attempts to fight the usage of offshore companies, because they obstruct tax collection and can obscure the ultimate beneficial owners of companies.

Fidesz has criticized the former Socialist government for its “offshore knights” and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in 2010 that during his governance the era of “offshore knights” will come to a halt.

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