We apologize if recent “feel good” articles gave our readers the erroneous impression that in order to succeed in Hungary it helps to be the friend or relative of a high-ranking Fidesz politician or a government official. Nothing could be further from the truth! As the case of András Giró-Száz clearly illustrates, with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, even government spokespersons can amass small fortunes at taxpayer expense!
Driven by a selfless desire to serve his country, Giró-Száz quit his private-sector job as director of Fidesz and government-funded think-tank Százádvég in September 2011 to become the main Fides-KDNP government spokesman. Returning to the private sector in April of this year, on November 4 Giró-Száz once again answered the call of duty by joining the Office of the Prime Minister as state secretary for communication.
According to a recent declaration of personal assets, life has not been kind to Giró-Száz. Since selling his house in Budapest’s exclusive twelth district, he has had to content himself with leasing a 120-sqm flat (also in the same exclusive district) as well as a Range Rover. It seems a HUF 25 million (USD 102,000) motor yacht is the only vehicle Giró-Száz can afford to own!
The fact that he has amassed some HUF 140 million (USD 570,000) in personal savings is misleading, for according to his declaration of personal assets, Giro-Száz owes his family some HUF 50 million (USD 200,000).
Isn’t it wonderful how all these underpaid, overworked Fidesz politicians (and their spokespersons) always seem to have rich relatives willing to help them in their hour of need!
Giró-Száz himself is owed some HUF 750 million (USD 3 million) from the recent “sale” of his 61% interest in Strategopolis Kft., a “strategic analyst and communication consulting” company he and two partners founded in 2006 with a penchant for landing lucrative contracts involving very little work. Shortly after the April election it was revealed that Strategopolis had produced two “image monitoring studies” totaling some 100 pages for the Fidesz parliamentary caucus at a cost of HUF 9.8 million (USD 40,000), or HUF 98,000 (USD 400) per page. Since January of 2013 Strategopolis Kft. has been preparing news for state media company MTVA for sale to private radio stations for an annual fee of HUF 42 million (USD 170,000) plus VAT.
According to a statement issued by MTVA, Strategopolis does not produce the news MTVA sells to some 27 news stations, but merely selects news issued by the Hungarian news service (MTI). Whatever would become of Hungary’s independent media were it not for this indispensible service provided by Strategopolis for a small fraction of its true market worth! At HUF 42 million Giró-Száz and company are clipping articles virtually for free!
It appears Giró-Száz was compelled by the demands of public office to sell his shares in Stategopolis at substantially below market value (on paper at least) considering the company’s minority owners were paid dividends of HUF 43 million (USD 180,000) and HUF 127 million (USD 500,000) in 2012 and 2013 alone. Fortunately, the devoted public servant gets to keep his 20 percent interest in Safe Port Project Kft., a real estate management company managed by brother-in-law Péter Serfőző, that is joint venturing the development of a HUF 3 billion (USD 8 million) 120-room hotel in the heart of historic Pest with a company also managed by Serfőző in which Safe Port Project Kft. has a minority interest.
It seems that in addition to being a selfess public servant, Giró-Száz is also a devoted family man. Way to keep it in the family, András!
The Dorottya street building situated behind the Sofitel Hotel was purchased from Budapest’s fifth district government (under former mayor Antál Rogan) by an undisclosed Luxembourg buyer as part of a package of seven properties for HUF 2.7 billion in 2010.
We at the Beacon take great comfort in the knowledge that Giró-Száz is but one of thousands of selfless, enterprising public servants employed by the vastly expanded Office of the Prime Minister.