A prime suspect in the food VAT fraud scandal is living in Florida under a fake Bissau-Guinea passport, according to weekly news magazine Figyelő. Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) prosecutors accuse Attila F. of defrauding Hungarian taxpayers of HUF 2.5 billion (USD 9.3. million) through the use of creative invoicing and the shipping of food commodities back and forth between Slovakia and Hungary.
Attila F. was facing charges of fraud at a Budapest court when he disappeared after testifying at four consecutive hearings. Figyelő writes that Hungarian officials have yet to mount a search for him, having failed to act on information regarding his whereabouts previously provided by the magazine. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the journal that they have no knowledge of his present location. A court spokesperson told the journal that his case stands unresolved since then.
Beleaguered Hungarian tax authority head Ildikó Vida told Figyelő she did not want to comment on the case.
Despite being called to testify at four consecutive court hearings, Attila F. was never taken into preventative detention or placed under house arrest. The journal suggests his contacts within NAV warned him of a pending investigation in the summer of 2013, giving him time to arrange safe passage out of Hungary. An earlier investigation conducted by Figyelő revealed that Attila F. had significant connections within NAV, and even managed to bribe a deputy-colonel within the Tax Investigation Corps into helping him avoid justice. The tax officer in question is currently serving out his sentence under house arrest.
When Attila F. failed to show up for a court hearing, Hungarian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for fraud and bribery of a public official, but the warrant was subsequently revoked for reasons unknown.
During the autumn of 2013 Attila F. was repeatedly called to testify at court. Attorney General spokesman Bettina Bagoly told Figyelő that an arrest of Attila F. “is not necessary at this stage of the investigation.” She denied assertions that Hungarian prosecutors had offered him a plea bargain.
Referenced in this article:
“Szabad út az adócsalónak?” (Safe passage for the tax cheater?) Figyelő 1-2./2015. January 13. 2015 28. pp.