Former Fidesz party director and campaign manager Attila Várhegyi was convicted in 2002 for abusing public funds.
An unnamed source closely connected to everyday issues at news website origo.hu has confirmed that an active link exists between companies owned by convicted Fidesz politician Attila Várhegyi and the editorial board of origo.hu.
Daily online newsite 444.hu reported this week that state-owned television company MTVA paid HUF 54 million (USD 240,000) annually to two companies owned by Várhegyi for “communication strategies and expert advice”. In addition to serving as Fidesz party director, Várhegyi was Fidesz campaign director until 1996. Várhegy, who served as the mayor of Szolnok, was also a state secretary under the first Viktor Orban government (1998-2002).
Várhegyi was convicted in 2002 for abusing public funds and given a suspended sentence for reportedly causing Szolnok HUF 154 million (USD 680,000) in damages. Recently his name resurfaced in connection with his alleged role in the reorganization of origo.hu as a government-friendly online publication after the sacking of its editor-in-chief Gergő Sáling.
In January 2012 former Politics Can Be Different (LMP) MP Gergely Karacsony criticized MTVA for signing a six-month contract with Várhegyi’s Prestige Media, calling the decision “to entrust the repair of the company’s torn reputation to the former Fidesz party director convicted of abuse of public funds” a “mysterious turn of events”. Karacsony, the vice-chairman of the parliamentary committee on culture and media, added: “This is not much different than a company’s directors inviting the whisky robber to oversee the security of its cash transactions.”
Citing undisclosed sources, both business weekly Figyelő and 444.hu reported that Várhegyi and his close associate Márton Nobilis (son of former index.hu owner and conservative real estate mogul Kristóf Nobilis) “exerted frequent pressure” on origo.hu editors on issues of domestic policy.
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