U.S. Embassy not naming corruption suspects

History

The U.S. Embassy said in a press conference yesterday that it would not name the ten Hungarians who have been denied entry into the U.S. on charges of corruption. But local media are saying the list includes Ildiko Vida, head of the tax authority, and Péter Heim, who heads the foundation that owns daily Napi Gazdaság, which originally broke the story on Thursday.

The U.S. embassy in Budapest said that "certain Hungarian private individuals" have been found to be ineligible for entry to the U.S. because "credible information that those persons are either engaging in or benefitting from corruption." U.S. privacy protection laws prevent making the names of the affected persons available, the embassy added.

Charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Andre Goodfriend, was summoned to the Hungarian foreign ministry yesterday, according to Hungarian news service MTI. The embassy declined to discuss the meeting, saying it was confidential.

According to 444.hu, who cited unnamed sources, some U.S. companies doing business in Hungary applied for participation in EU-funded tenders and were told that they could only do so if they hired certain consultants.

Others included on the list of ten individuals who were told they could not enter the U.S. included two other officials working for Hungarian the tax authority (NAV), according to reports.

The U.S. Embassy said that the U.S. State Department is not singling out Hungary but has been increasing its vigilance against corruption lately. "No one is above the law,” the embassy reportedly said. “The U.S. shares Hungary’s view of ‘zero tolerance’ of corruption. Addressing corruption requires a healthy system of checks, balances and transparency.”

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