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Court issues guilty verdict in Bunge bribery case

The Budapest Municipal Court on Wednesday issued a guilty verdict in the retrial of a defendant accused of soliciting a bribe from a lobbyist for the local unit of U.S.-based agribusiness Bunge, a leading manufacturer of cooking oil, according to state news wire MTI.

Image: Pavel Kapysh / Shutterstock.com

The defendant in the case was charged with offering to forge a strategic partnership between Bunge and the government, lower the VAT rate on cooking oil, and hold back the VAT refunds of one of Bungeʼs competitors in exchange for HUF 2 billion.

The court rejected the defenseʼs argument that the offer had been misunderstood and sentenced the defendant to two years in prison, which was suspended on probation for a period of three years.

The court said the defendantʼs spotless record before the crime, as well as the fact two children are in his care, were mitigating factors in the decision.

Among aggravating factors, the court counted the damage the crime had done to Hungaryʼs international reputation. The crime provided grounds for a ban on travel to the United States placed on a number of Hungarian citizens. The ruling may be appealed.

The retrial was ordered by the Budapest Municipal Court of Appeals in April 2017.