With just 25 days to go before the election, minister without portfolio (but responsible for city development) senior Fidesz politician Lajos Kósa stands accused of being at the center of a massive money-laundering scheme. Magyar Nemzet, which is owned by oligarch-in-exile Lajos Simicska, has published two stories this week showing that Kósa has very close ties to a bizarre scheme reportedly involving billions of Euros. Opposition politicians are accusing him of being involved in some kind of money-laundering scheme.
Drip, drip, drip
On Tuesday morning Magyar Nemzet reported
- Kósa signed a contract with a lady. The contract allowed Kósa to act as co-signer on the FHB bank investment account housing 4.353 billion Euros for the purpose of investing in Hungarian treasury bonds.
- Kósa could withdraw from the account, transfer funds, and had the authority to a full range of decisions regarding the account, with the exception that he could not close the account.
- The contract, which had been modified several times, was originally concluded on February 2, 2015, and stipulates that the funds must be continuously managed and that such activities must begin by April 30, 2015.
- The contract states that both parties “did not wish to further specify details of the agreement.”
- The contract was officially notarized by a public notary.
Later that day, Kósa posted a video to his Facebook page in which he said
- A housewife from Csongor enlisted a lawyer in autumn 2012 to tell Kósa that she received a “very large” inheritance.
- The lady said she wanted to use this money well, which prompted her to reach out to Kósa for help.
- He was shown information documents that supported the lady’s claims.
- He advised the lady to invest the money in job-creating investments in Hungary and state treasury bonds.
- As time passed, they rewrote their agreement on numerous occasions.
- By the end of 2016/early 2017, he thought that “if this is a real story, then something should have already happened. As time passed, I saw that nothing would come of this. Later based on other information, I came to the conclusion that this lady deceived me and this whole story is a big humbug. And I think – I ceased my relationship with her. I never touched a single [penny]. The lady never made me the co-signer on any bank account. The bank did not accept that. I never accepted a [penny]. My conscience is clear. There are requests like this, and I tried to use this for the benefit of the community. That’s what this has become. Now I know this was a swindle and this lady tricked not only me, but several people. I think they have initiated proceedings against her. Unfortunately, there are those in Hungary would abuse the good intentions of others.”
- “I would not be surprised if all kinds of other documents surface – forgeries or other things – because we see there is an election campaign. Based on the information, I can see that this lady had strong ties with the Socialists before 2010.”
Kósa has been hounded by the press ever since the story broke. In true Kósa fashion, his version of the story changes every time he speaks about it.
Drip, drip, drip
On Wednesday, Magyar Nemzet reported
- There exists a gift contract, notarized by a public notary, which declares a gift of 2,633,454 Euros to Mrs. Lajos Kósa — Kósa’s mother. The document is dated September 26, 2013, and reportedly lists her bank account information.
- The contract was based on “previously agreed terms.”
Magyar Nemzet also reported
- It has documents in its possession showing that the principal is a shareholder in a Swiss charter-plane company. The documents are in multiple languages, including English. The English-language documents name a János Czakó, who along with Lajos Kósa is listed as a trustee permitted to take part in the company’s 2013 and 2015 shareholder meetings for the purpose of representing the owner of the shares. The documents also state the shareholder does not speak English.
- János Czakó’s name also appears on another document from 2015, together with another man, Tamás Szabó. According to that document, both men were entitled to withdraw 25 million Euros each, in November and December 2015, respectively, from the principal’s safety deposit box in Switzerland.
- According to the document, the safety deposit box is located under the same address as UBS Switzerland AG’s Zurich office.
- The document also names who the Swiss account manager is, and that the two men will arrive in a Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec.
- According to the documents, the deputy public notary who notarized the documents informed the parties that they must make a declaration if they enter/exit the European Union with more than 10,000 Euros. One of the English-language documents is endorsed with an apostilled authentication.
- The earliest document showing the relationship between principal and Kósa is dated January 28, 2013. The last document showing the relationship is dated November 16, 2015.
- A document dated January 12, 2015 shows the principal authorized Kósa to act as a principal of Crédit Industriel et Commercial bank shares, allowing him to practice all shareholder rights, with the exception of selling the shares or receiving dividends.
Update (March 20th):
A law office representing Altenrhein Aviation AG has since sent us the following statement:
1. Neither Mrs. Gáborné Szabo nor any other private individual has ever been Altenrhein Aviation’s shareholder. Mr. Lajos Kôsa and Mr. Janos Czakô did not participate at the annual general meetings of the company neither as a representative nor in any other capacity. They are unknown to the company and its shareholders, they had no contact of whatsoever with them.
2. During the period in question, from 2013 until the change of ownership in mid-2015, Pilatus AG (https://www.pilatus-aircraft.com/en) was the sole and only 100% shareholder of Altenrhein Aviation AG. In mid 2015 the current shareholder purchased 100% of the shares from Pilatus and is still holding 100% of the shares of Altenrhein Aviation AG.
3. Altenrhein Aviation AG asks all reporting media to remove the contents from the articles related to Altenrhein and its partners] and, in the future to refrain from misleading or untruthful communications.
4. The unfounded stories and assumptions are harmful to both Altenrhein Aviation AG’s operations and its staff and cause damages.
On Wednesday morning, after Magyar Nemzet published its second article, anti-corruption crusader and LMP co-chair Ákos Hadházy posted the following on Facebook:
- “I think Kósa is now in really big trouble. The lady who ‘swindled’ him has strong business ties to István Fiák, the same man who gave a HUF 110 million gift to Kósa’s wife when she bought his [pig farm] from him for HUF 6 million.”
- “István Fiák’s daughter co-owns another company (Észak-Atlanti Pénzügyi Befektető Kft.) with Mrs. Gábor Szabó (the housewife billionaire swindler) and János Czakó, who Magyar Nemzet reported today may have had Swiss business dealings with Kósa.”
- “The suspicion that there is a vast money laundering network around Kósa is strengthened by the fourth member of that company, Mihály Orendi. There is another company, AVE PRO Kft., in this story, whose director is Mrs. Gábor Szima. Her husband is the head of DVSC (Debrecen’s football club) and its main sponsor, also known as “Casino Szimas.” AVE PRO is connected to DSVC’s main sponsor AVE Ásványvíz Kft. in a number of ways. For instance, AVE PRO Kft.’s owner is János Zsolt Meszesi, who is also in charge of AVE Ásványvíz Kft.”
- “And what is this connection? AVE PRO Kft.’s owner as of December 24, 2012 was the same Mihály Orendi who was the owner and director of Észak-Atlanti Kft. He just happened to be the director of Debreceni Sportcentrum Kft.”
- “Kósa is in a great deal of trouble because this entire thing looks like a big money laundering network.”
- Mrs. Gábor Szabó – Business owner and lady with the 4.3 billion Euros inheritance;
- Mihály Orendi – A representative for Debrecen and national sports and event management companies, deputy chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee;
- István Fiák – Numerous business interests in labor cooperatives, youth and pensioner associations. His main business is reportedly Meló-Diák Holding. 444 reports Fiák’s company is the main competitor of Csaba Czeglédi’s employment agency. Czeglédi, a politician and businessman, has close ties to Ferenc Gyurcsány and is in pre-trial police custody; and
- János Czakó – One of the men with the right to pick up 25 million Euros from the Swiss safety deposit box.
What do all these people have in common? They were all either representatives or owners of an obscure company with hardly any noticeable economic activity, Észak-Atlanti Pénzügyi Befektető Kft.
How are they connected to Lajos Kósa?
Fiák, Orendi and Kósa run the Hungarian National Ice-Skating Association. Kósa is the organization’s chairman. They even attended the South Korean Winter Olympics together.
The Kósa family has also done business with Fiák. In 2017, Fiák sold a company with registered capital of HUF 120 million to Kósa’s wife for HUF 6 million.
We will continue to update this story as more information surfaces.
With the exception of Momentum Movement and Együtt, all major opposition parties commented on Kósa’s affair with the heiress.
Democratic Coalition (DK)
At a Tuesday press conference, Democratic Coalition spokesman Zsolt Gréczy requested the European Commission conduct an inquiry into how Kósa could possibly dispose of EUR 4.353 billion. The DK spokesman stated that DK would like to know whether a screening that is compulsory in the case of this high amount of money was conducted by the Hungarian National Bank that oversees banking supervision. Gréczy said Kósa’s story is totally discredited, noting that this much money could only be inherited from US billionaire Bill Gates or the United Arab Emirates. “This much money practically does not exist,” Gréczy said.
On Wednesday, DK chairman and former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány held a press conference, where he stated that Lajos Kósa is not a victim but an accomplice. According to Gyurcsány, official persons are obliged to file a report with the competent authorities if they discover fraud or money laundering and Kósa failed to fulfill this duty. Gyurcsány also stated that in his opinion Prime Minister Viktor Orbán must have known about the case. The DK chairman vowed to turn to Orbán with a written question to find out whether the Prime Minister knew about the case, whether he gave his authorization for Kósa’s dealings and will he start proceedings against Kósa.
Politics Can Be Different (LMP)
Politics Can Be Different spokesman Máté Kanász-Nagy stated on Tuesday that LMP would initiate the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry committee to investigate Kósa’s case. Kanász-Nagy said that LMP awaits the support of other opposition parties to set up the special committee. The LMP spokesman called the case “one of the most suspicious cases to emerge in the press in the last 30 years.”
Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue (MSZP-Párbeszéd)
In the the wake of the recent scandals of Hungarian National Bank governor György Matolcsy, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, Kósa and the Elios case, Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue prime ministerial candidate Gergely Karácsony stated on Wednesday that “this government has failed morally” and called the cabinet to operate as an executive government until the April 8 general election and abstain from making any decision concerning public funds.
Referring to Kósa’s scandal, Karácsony said: “One half of the country thinks that one of Viktor Orbán’s ministers is an idiot, the other half thinks he is a bastard. Today it became apparent that he is both.”
The radical right-wing Jobbik that often refers to itself as Fidesz’s only challenger released a statement on Wednesday, in which Jobbik vice-president János Volner argues that if the opposition waits for any action from Fidesz-controlled Prosecutor General Péter Polt, this affair will never be investigated. Therefore, Jobbik calls for immediately establishing a parliamentary committee of inquiry so that the people of Hungary could find out whose fortune is managed by Lajos Kósa and for what purpose.
“Such huge private fortunes are never entrusted to the management of a minister in Hungary and perhaps even internationally, since it amounts to half the annual budget of a small country or that of the Hungarian healthcare system. Before voters cast their ballots to decide who they want to manage Hungary in the future, they should know who is truly behind Lajos Kósa and Fidesz. Whose treasurer is Lajos Kósa? Who is the owner of the EUR 4.3 billion fund entrusted to his care? Where does this money come from? Does it come from legal or illegal, Hungarian or foreign sources? What has Lajos Kósa and Fidesz done with it?
“If the Jobbik-initiated parliamentary committee is set up, it will complete its report by April 7. If Fidesz has nothing to hide, they will support the work of the committee, otherwise they will have nowhere to hide after April 8.”
It is not known yet whether LMP and Jobbik would cooperate in setting up a parliamentary committee of inquiry.