State secretary keeps lands, millions a secret

July 2, 2016

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An earlier version of this article implied that undersecretary László Tasó was still the owner of a 23,000 sqm property in Nyíradony when, in fact, he gave it to his wife in 2015.  We have corrected the article based on land registry documents and asset declaration forms furnished by investigative journalism website Direkt36.  We apologize to Mr. Tasó and to our readers for the mistake.

László Tasó, undersecretary for Transport Policy in the Ministry of National Development, usually only talks to the press when he announces a new road development program or celebrates the delivery of a new motorway.  Now online investigative website Direkt36 has found out that Tasó failed to accurately declare valuable lands and subsidies in assets declaration forms submitted at the beginning of 2015 and prior to that.

The undersecretary, who was previously mayor of Nyíradony, owned 23,356 square meters of land near his hometown consisting of one larger plot and three smaller plots. However, in his asset declaration form submitted to Parliament in 2015 (as required by law) he incorrectly reported that he was the 50 percent owner when, according to land registry records, he was the 100 percent owner.

Mr. Tasó subsequently transferred his ownership of the ground to his wife in 2015, even though his 2015 filing submitted at the beginning of this year indicates that he remained the 50 percent owner of the larger plot and the sole owner of three smaller plots.

Although the land is not considered very large, it lies in the middle of an industrial development area right next to Nyíradony. This will definitely increase its value in the near future. Tasó himself admitted to Direkt36 that he plans to sell or lease out the property.

What about subsidies?

Tasó also forgot to mention the agricultural subsidies he received after his lands. The politician owns 90 acres of arable and vineyards, earning him a profit of HUF 8 million (USD 28,100) last year. Between 2011 and 2013 he received EU and Hungarian state subsidies on 13 separate occasions of which he only declared five, neglecting to mention some HUF 3.2 million (USD 11,250) worth of subsidies.

Direkt36 claims the undersecretary did not tell the truth about a 12-acre forest either. He declared he was the 50 percent owner, when, according to land registry documents, he was sole owner of the area until last December when he gave it to his wife.

When asked about his dealings, Tasó answered only a few questions by Direkt36 before denouncing the investigation as a “paid provocation”.