MNB uses Pallas Athéné foundations to funnel $2 million to Vs.hu

April 24, 2016

mnb

It turns out the Hungarian National Bank (MNB)  has channeled more than HUF 500 million (nearly USD 2 million) in grants to news site Vs.hu, reports Hungarian news site 444.hu. Vs.hu has been one of the media outlets whose coverage of the scandals behind the MNB’s foundations has been lacking.

The central bank, whose governor is long-time Fidesz politician György Matolcsy, used its Pallas Athéné foundations to funnel the grants to Vs.hu over the past year and a half.

Information related to grants provided by the bank’s foundations was made public Friday following a court order (and a failed attempt by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party and government) to cover up how MNB was using more than almost USD 1 billion it endowed to six foundations it created two years ago.

Vs.hu, which is published by New Wave Production Kft., was the beneficiary of generous grants offered up by all six of the MNB’s foundations. The total funding provided to the company exceeds HUF 500 million.

Vs.hu has been doing quite well for itself since its launch in late 2013, and has been on somewhat of an acquisition frenzy. Recently, the company purchased Hungarian news site Origo.hu from Magyar Telekom. Earlier it had purchased Hungary’s most popular online service, Koponyeg.hu.

Vs.hu is also owned, through a string of investment groups, by Tamás Szemerey, a cousin of Matolcsy.

Last year, each of the MNB’s Pallas Athéné foundations provided HUF 70 million in grants to Vs.hu under the “Hungary 2015” project. According to the project’s requirement, Vs.hu would regularly post documentary and modern multimedia content on its webite. The purpose of the project was to showcase serious social and economic issues with the help of modern media. The project was to last until December 31, 2015.

Vs.hu did not disclose that it had received the generous support of Hungary’s central bank foundations. What’s more, Vs.hu has not dealt all that much with scandals that have rocked the central bank since the launch of the foundations in late 2013.

New Wave Production Kft. was also the beneficiary of a state-backed loan recently that helped it acquire Origo.hu from Magyar Telekom. Last week, reports began to surface that Vs.hu was also set on purchasing Hungarian weekly Figyelő.