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Finance minister instructs MNV chief to take steps regarding Malév

Finance Minister Péter Oszkó on Thursday instructed National Asset Management Company (MNV) CEO Miklós Kamarás in a letter to take the necessary steps in order to legally clarify the situation regarding the counter-guarantee provided by Malév to Vnesheconombank, the Finance Ministry announced on Thursday evening.

Oszkó said there are good reasons to presume that there could be a suspicion of fraud regarding the guarantee agreement signed in May 2007, following the privatization of Malév.

The finance minister said that if the investigation establishes a suspicion of any criminal offence, MNV should immediately take the necessary legal steps.

Econews reported on Wednesday Oszkó said during a parliamentary-committee hearing that a €32 million counter guarantee that Hungarian national airline Malév made to Russia's Vnesheconombank on the debt of its former majority owner Airbridge was illegal. The government has reported the case to the police, he said.

Oszkó told the Economic and IT Committee that the finance minister learned of the counter guarantee only on February 10, just a few weeks before the government reached an agreement with representatives from Vnesheconombank and former Malév majority owner AirBridge to acquire a 95% stake in the airline through a HUF 25.2 billion (€90.25m) capital raise, including cash on the conversion of debt.

Oszkó said that there was no trace of the guarantee in Malév's books and added that the guarantee does not amount to a direct obligation of the state.

The actual counter guarantee undertaken by Malév to its previous owner was higher and was reduced during the February renationalization talks, Oszkó said, adding that under the renationalization contract Malév has the right to reclaim the payment at court.

The finance minister said at the parliamentary committee hearing that Malév's counter guarantee violates Hungarian law and is therefore void. (MTI-Econews)