PM: I told ministries to withdraw from Quaestor

Deals

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today said that he personally urged government ministries to withdraw their money from Quaestor investment house because he suspected that the scandal a few days earlier at Buda-Cash brokers would set off a domino effect, bringing down independent Hungarian brokerages, Hungarian online daily index.hu reported.

The prime minister was responding to a journalistʼs query, at a press conference in Sopron, about why the Hungarian Foreign Ministry withdrew its money from Quaestor just before the investment firm became insolvent. Orbán said that, watching how individuals and municipalities saw their monies being frozen at Buda-Cash, he told government institutions to withdraw money from all brokerages.

MNKH, a state-owned company supervised by the ministry, reportedly signed an agreement with the brokerage arm of the Quaestor group in March 2013 and had assets amounting to HUF 3.9 bln at the troubled brokerage house. 

According to the ministry, MNKH decided to withdraw its capital from Quaestor on March 5. Quaestor declared insolvency on March 9 and filed for bankruptcy on March 19. According to index.hu, even though MNKH reportedly made the decision to withdraw its assets from Quaestor on March 5, the actual transaction did not take place until March 9, the same day Quaestor reported insolvency.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release yesterday, saying it "did not acquire any illegal information whatsoever” in response to allegations that the ministry had insider information about the instability of Quaestor. The ministry statement also said that “Quaestor has always complied with all regulations in the past”.

Ownership hassle

In a related development, Hungarian online daily 444.hu, citing public records, said that not long before Quaestor went bankrupt, there was a change in leadership, under which Csaba Tarsoly, who had been the owner and CEO of the brokerage, was changed with Béla Orgován.

An investigation by 444.hu published yesterday indicated that Orgován had been in prison many times and he never finished elementary school.

Driven by media criticism of Orgován’s promotion to Quaestor’s owner, Tarsoly told Hungarian news agency MTI that he is taking back his position at the brokerage. He said that he made a mistake to do as his “reorganizational consultant suggested” and he unwillingly gave the “false impression” that he was trying to escape from being made responsible for the situation at Quaestor.

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