Budapest, June 7 (MTI) – The Municipal Court sentenced on Tuesday a man for soliciting payment from an American company based in Hungary in return for using his influence to lower the VAT rate on cooking oil.
In the non-binding ruling, the man was handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for three years. The charges were brought in December last year.
The firm in question, Bunge, immediately broke off ties with the man, T András Viktor, according to Budapest chief prosecutor Tibor Ibolya. The suspect was also banned from entering the United States.
He was found guilty on two counts of racketeering. First, for soliciting a payment of 2 billion forints (EUR 6.4m) in May 2014 in return for using his influence to lower the VAT on cooking oil from 27 percent to 5 percent and then claiming he could get the tax office to suspend VAT refunds to Bunge’s rivals during the course of an investigation against him.
Whereas the prosecution insisted the accused had feigned the offers, the court established that the offers were genuine and substantive but he had acted as an intermediary for someone whose identity has not been established.
Ibolya said that the suspect had referred to his ties to Péter Heim, the head of market research firm Századvég, saying Heim could use his influence to reduce the VAT in question. No connection was established between the suspect and the Századvég chief, however, he added.