Budapest prosecutors have once again extended the investigation into the suspicious sale of municipal property formerly owned by Budapest’s 5th District. The investigation was launched in February 2015, but it appears that either investigators are having difficulty collecting evidence or prosecutors are reluctant to ask parliament to lift former District 5 mayor Antal Rogán’s parliamentary immunity on the basis of evidence collected to date.
According to Hungarian news site 444.hu, the piece of real estate at the center of this story was purchased by a company owned by Marianne Pápa, former partner of notorious underworld figure Tamás Portik and the aunt of “informal advisor to the prime minister” Árpád Hábony tasked with building a pro-government media empire. The property was sold at a steep discount for a grand total of HUF 52 million (USD 190,000). Within months, it was resold for over HUF 100 million (USD 365,000).
This particular story is especially damaging to Fidesz MP and government Cabinet Minister Rogán, who was mayor of the 5th District when the transaction is purported to have taken place.
Portik, who is serving a prison sentence for ordering the murder of a competitor, testified in court that he personally delivered HUF 10 million worth of euros on Pápa’s behalf to Rogán for the latter’s assistance in helping acquire municipally-owned property.
Anti-corruption crusader and 5th District assemblyman Péter Juhász (Együtt) can be credited with bringing stories of the district’s unscrupulous sale of properties to public attention.
Budapest prosecutors were initially hesitant to open an investigation but the tireless efforts of Juhász left them little choice.
Since launching their investigation, prosecutors have repeatedly extended their deadline. The previous deadline to conclude the investigation would have expired on July 21st but prosecutors have again extended it to October 21st.
If they ask parliament to lift his immunity, Rogán may become the first senior government politician to be indicted for abuse of power and/or corruption. But don’t hold your breath.