National Economy Minister György Matolcsy has relieved chairman of the Hungarian tax office APEH János Szikora of his duties, the ministry told MTI on Monday, adding that the minister will appoint a new head to the office soon.
The step came after an inquiry at APEH of arrears owed by national carrier Malév was completed. Matolcsy launched the probe on June 18 to determine whether Szikora had legally suspended the collection of back taxes from the airline.
The inquiry found that the fact that APEH chairman had halted the collection of the airline's debt of Szikora violated the principle of equal treatment, and he also unlawfully intervened in the powers of the directorate for major taxpayers.
Matolcsy launched the probe after the national daily Magyar Nemzet reported that Szikora halted collection of HUF 1.17 billion in arrears that Malév owed APEH in 2008. The tax authority denied that they had remitted the arrears as claimed by the daily, and said they had suspended the collection at Malév's request, and the airline made the payment within a few weeks.
Malév was in private hands at the time as the Hungarian state sold 99.95% of Malév to the Hungarian-registered company AirBridge, 51% owned by two Hungarian investors and controlled by Russian airline magnate Boris Abramovich, in April 2007. The airline was renationalized earlier this year. (MTI-Econews)