Budapest, October 17 (MTI) – The opposition E-PM on Friday demanded a public inquiry to identify Hungarian citizens affected by a US entry ban linked to their alleged involvement in corruption while the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) called for an extraordinary parliamentary session on the issue. The opposition LMP party demanded parliament’s national security committee to convene.
E-PM called on the government to name the private individuals, senior tax officials, company managers and companies involved in the allegations. In a statement, the party asked the Foreign Ministry to disclose what statements were made during a meeting with the US charge d’affaires who was summoned to the ministry earlier on Friday.
E-PM also asked the ministry to confirm press reports that one of the persons banned from the US was Arpad Habony, “known as a confidant of [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban and the number one communications advisor to [ruling] Fidesz.”
DK senior official Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy told a press conference that the prime minister, the minister heading the prime minister’s office, the interior minister, the foreign minister and the economy minister are expected to confirm whether or not press reports about the US ban on officials were true and whether an investigation had been launched or was planned.
LMP co-leader Bernadett Szel said the details of the corruption allegations must be made public. She suggested that the parliamentary committee for national security should discuss the matter at its session on Monday.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, Habony’s legal representative denied that a US entry ban was in force against his client and called on media outlets that said the opposite to issue corrections.
The online version of business daily Napi Gazdasag said on Thursday that Hungarian authorities launched tax audits in certain US-affiliated organisations and companies, as a result of which the US was blocking access to entry to the US for the heads of certain authorities.
In reaction to the report, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that it is in the interest of both the US and Hungary that the authorities carry out their audits thoroughly, in a transparent manner and in line with the law. Hungarian officials carry out their duties free of any pressure, the ministry said.
The US embassy told public television M1 on Thursday evening that it had no information about any Hungarian tax and customs audits against any US-affiliates in Hungary and no US counter steps had been taken as a result of any such audit.
At the same time, it said that “certain Hungarian private individuals” have been found to be ineligible for entry to the US because “credible information is available showing that these persons participated or profited from corruption activities.” US privacy protection laws prevent making the names of the affected persons available, the embassy said.
Andre Goodfriend, charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Budapest, was summoned to the Hungarian foreign ministry on Friday. The ministry asked the US diplomat to convey Hungary’s request to the US government that the US should share all verified information concerning cases in Hungary in which corruption was suspected, ministry press chief Judit Fulop said. She added that the two countries had a shared interest in investigating all such cases.