An official of Hungary’s people’s populist Jobbik party has accused the government of large-scale corruption, citing reports that a Hungarian man was in a United States witness protection programme, accused of laundering money linked to the Hungarian government.
György Szilágyi told a press conference on Monday that it had now become clear why Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was linked to “Arab money launderer” Ghaith Pharaon, a Saudi businessman who was wanted by the US authorities under an Interpol arrest warrant. Pharaon died in January 2017. According to reports, the Saudi was a resident of Budapest in 2016.
The Jobbik politician cited a report that the US authorities had caught a courier with a diplomatic passport who had handled millions of dollars. It later turned out that tax authority head Ildikó Vida had known about the money.
“Reports that the US was planning to place a travel ban on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and many other members of the government now make sense, too,” he said.
The witness protection programme that the man in question is participating in may be the reason for the ban, he added.
Szilágyi said the witness in the US may have also explained why US President Donald Trump had not invited Orbán to Washington.
Referring to a suspected case of graft involving Lajos Kósa, a minister without portfolio, the Jobbik official noted an article published by Magyar Nemzet today alleging that the source of 1,300 billion forints (EUR 4bn) reportedly handled by Kósa was unaccounted for. This sum was likely part of the Fidesz-backed money laundering scheme, he insisted.
Szilágyi called on Orbán and his government to respond to the allegations. He urged the prime minister to quit public life should he be unable to clear his name.
The Jobbik politician said the FBI had informed the Hungarian authorities a year ago about the man in witness protection and yet no action had been taken by the Hungarian authorities to interview him.
At a news conference today, asked about the report that a Hungarian man was in a US witness protection programme, accused of laundering money linked to the Hungarian government, Zoltan Kovács, the government spokesman, called the story “campaign bogus” and a “complete lie”.