He doesn’t have the answer and he had no insider information
During his weekly radio address on Hungary’s state-run media, on the subject of how Hungarian public funds got into the hands of cheaters, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said “We’re still trying to find an answer for this question.”
Orbán may not know why certain public funds were entrusted to now-bankrupt Quaestor, but he is certain he was not acting on insider information when he ordered ministries to withdraw all funds from Quaestor four days before the brokerage collapsed.
“I invited some 61 municipal government leaders to the parliament and we looked at the situation together and decided that this risk needs to stop,” said the Prime Minister.
Orbán acknowledged receiving a letter from Quaestor requesting a meeting with government officials to discuss “state support” in addition to the letter sent to the National Bank of Hungary notifying it that Quaestor had defaulted on payment of bonds coming due. He claims the content of the two letters were the same. “The letter was sent directly to me and I immediately contacted the Minister of National Economics and told him to contact the brokerage if they want to meet because the letter said that the brokerage wants state support and they’d like to meet with us to discuss that.”
Just because people want higher returns doesn’t mean you can steal their money
“Life hasn’t been easy for the people of Hungary for the past 25 years. They’ve had to work hard for the money they’ve been able to save. I understand those people who didn’t want to deposit their money in banks with low interest rates because they wanted higher returns. Of course, it’s risky. But just because people were willing to take a greater risk in the hopes of higher returns doesn’t give anyone the right to steal their money,” said the Prime Minister.
“What we’re talking about right now is that this money simply disappeared. They’ve turned into someone’s assets. I don’t want to stir anti-broker sentiments because the people have enough problems anyway, but we’ve seen brokers, the luxury cars driving around Budapest, the whole lifestyle they have, and we’ve seen the movies made about them,” reasoned Orbán.
“So they really live the rich life. And nobody would be angry if their work resulted in helping others get more money, too. But in the case where their lifestyle and wealth comes from stealing the money of the hardworking people, then people are angry about it,” he said.
“We can’t really beat around the bush on this issue because over the last 25 years Hungarians have also learned that the people behind these type of difficult to understand and sly constructions devised by lawyers usually get away once they’ve made the people’s money disappear.”
The era of accountability, Fidesz-style
Despite the fact that the investigation into what happened at Quaestor is only just getting under way, Orbán is already calling it a criminal act.
“The biggest challenge for us now is to determine whether we can open a new era where it is no longer possible to get away with this kind of criminal act. And I think that Fidesz’s parliamentary legislative recommendation, which would hold accountable anyone responsible for the crime even with their own assets, this gives those who have lost money a chance to get it back,” said Orbán.
Orbán: It took so long to handcuff Quaestor executives because of Hungary’s rule of law
“The Hungarian justice system curtails the government’s opportunities to act. The courts are independent in Hungary. They decide whether to invoke pre-trial detention. The prosecutors office isn’t under the government but rather it is under the control of parliament. Therefore, we can’t order them around. And the ability to command the police is strictly controlled in the Hungarian legal system. So the government can’t take responsibility for the results generated by the Hungarian justice system,” he said.
“The government must always do one thing, though. It needs to satisfy the nation’s desire for justice by giving it a voice. And, while respecting the laws, it needs to encourage the criminal investigation and law enforcement bodies to take action as soon as possible.”
Fortunately for Viktor Orbán, police took Quaestor owner and former CEO Csaba Tarsoly into custody Thursday evening. Otherwise the Prime Minister would have had to answer why, two weeks after revelations that the financial brokerage firm had sold HUF 150 billion worth of “fictive bonds”, police had yet to make any arrests or seize assets.
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