Tax fraud must not go unpunished but it is up to the public prosecutor’s office to clarify whether the statements of a former tax office staffer about alleged VAT fraud are true or not, said Fidesz party chairman Róbert Zsigó this week.
In mid-November, former National Tax and Customs Authority (NÁV) employee András Horváth claimed that several large companies had failed to pay taxes totaling as much as HUF 1.7 trillion. Horváth stated at that time that NÁV was and is actively involved in allowing major tax “discounts” to numerous major firms operating in Hungary.
Zsigó told local media that Horváth had actually not been a tax controller but that his claims were nevertheless serious and needed to be assessed. Zsigó did not hesitate to add, however, that opposition politicians discussing the matter are “probably not really after the truth but are pursuing a different agenda.”
When questioned by opposition party LMP MP Gábor Vágó, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that “the place of all tax evaders is in prison,” opining that tax fraud should result in the strictest possible penalties with no exceptions for “small or big, Hungarian or multinational company.”
On its part, NÁV released a statement on Monday explaining that, following Horváth’s resignation, data found at his workstation and in files indicated that Horváth had accessed NÁV data which was “beyond the scope of his authority.” NÁV further claimed that Horváth is still holding information belonging to the tax authority. An internal investigation at NÁV will be launched in order to assess whether Horváth and/or other will be charged with an offense and/or disciplinary action.
Last week, government spokesman András Giró-Szász told national news service MTI that public accusations by former officials such as Horváth are damaging: “dissemination of such rumors further deteriorates what is already a low tax morale” in the country and “is against Hungary’s interests.”