Takarekbank CEO muzzles VOSZ general secretary

December 3, 2013


Ferenc David, secretary general of the Hungarian Association for Entrepreneurs and Employers (VOSZ), has been fighting an uphill battle against the Hungarian government’s nationalization of Hungary’s largest credit union, Takarekbank.  Having stripped shareholders of their rights, the government-controlled Takarekbank now seems intent on stripping David of the right to speak publicly about what has happened.

The Budapest Beacon covered Takarebank’s troubles in this article published back in December.

Here’s what happened:

  • Takarekbank was incorporated, capitalized, and overseen, by an association comprised of 120 credit unions.
  • Ferenc David of VOSZ represents 70 of Hungary’s 122; many of the represented credit unions are shareholders in Takarekbank.
  • The Hungarian government forcefully acquired a majority stake in Takarekbank by enacting lex specialis legislation giving them the authority to do so. This lex specialis legislation devalued the shares belong to Takarekbank’s shareholders, and stipulated severe penalties for any shareholder standing in the way of the bank’s nationalization and the administrative reshuffling about to take place
  • The government appointed the author of the Credit Union Integration Scheme, Levente Szabo, CEO of the Takarekbank despite his never having worked for a Credit Union.

Despite the government suppression of shareholder opposition to the nationalization, VOSZ secretary general Ferenc David hasn’t stopped talking about the nationalization’s effect on shareholders (whose rights have been eliminated) and depositors.

Takarekbank’s shareholders are under constant threat of government-imposed penalty for their opposition to the the nationalization. VOSZ, representing 70 of Hungary’s 122 credit unions, has remained vocal in its opposition to the governments actions.

Ferenc David has been as vocal about the forceful nationalization as anyone in his position can be. Appearing on ATV’s Egyenes Beszed with Olga Kalman on 17 November 2013, he stated the Fidesz-led parliament has drafted and approved a new law that would prevent clients in Takarekbank from withdrawing their deposits in the bank.

Daily online newspaper hvg.hu obtained a letter circulated last week by top executives from 8 of the 120 credit unions comprising Takarekbank. The letter alleges that over the past few weeks Ferenc David has been speaking on behalf of the credit unions (as opposed to VOSZ), and has been making illegitimate claims that are meant to strike fear into hearts of Takarekbank’s clients and its shareholders.

This letter calls upon the directors of Hungary’s credit unions to sign a “consent for authorization” granting Takarekbank CEO Levente Szabo the right to make public appeals on behalf of all of the credit unions and to challenge claims made by David.  Directors were instructed to sign and return the letter via facsimile the same day.

The letter of authorization empowers Szabo to represent the credit unions in all matters legal, relating to public relations, and concerning the “integration” of credit unions in Hungary’s new banking system. A signature on the authorization would also allow the government-appointed CEO to represent ALL credit unions on the board of directors and various committees.

MEP Lajos Bokros who since the early 1990’s has served as chairman and CEO to Budapest Bank, Hungary’s Minister of Finance, and later worked for the World Bank, has called upon the European Union to start challenging the Hungarian government for their misdeeds.  According to Bokros the government’s actions with regard to Takarekbank violate the rule of law and the sanctity of private property.

Referenced in this article:

Belháború a takarékoknál: Demján embere csak engedéllyel nyilatkozhat, HVG.hu: 02 December 2013

Nationalization of Hungarian credit union Takarekbank, The Budapest Beacon: 13 October 2013