Opposition parties warn of residency bond ‘national security risks’
Budapest, September 6 (MTI) – Opposition parties on Tuesday said the country’s residency bond scheme carried risks after a newspaper report suggesting a foreign criminal had purchased a bond allowing residency in Hungary.
The opposition Jobbik party has called on the government to suspend the sale of residency bonds, citing risks to national security.
In addition, foreigners who have already received residency permits should have to pass stricter security clearance than previously, Jobbik lawmaker Gábor Staudt told a news conference on Tuesday.
Commenting on a report in Tuesday’s edition of Magyar Nemzet claiming that a Russian national, a convicted criminal, had bought residency bonds, Staudt said the bonds are not only linked with graft suspects but there is also a risk that foreign criminals are accessing Hungary and other member states of the European Union.
Much of the 100 billion forints (EUR 323m) that has accrued via the sale of residency bonds has gone off-shore, Staudt insisted, adding that the Hungarian economy has not benefited from the scheme.
The Jobbik politician claimed that the scheme was a “bonanza” for “everyone who’s in it”. “It is only the Hungarian state and the taxpayer who aren’t …”
The Socialists will propose a bill to parliament on abandoning the residency bonds scheme and obliging the firms marketing such bonds to give an account of their dealings before parliament’s economy committee. Parliamentary group leader Bertalan Tóth also at a news conference on Tuesday that the bill will contain a 75 percent tax on related revenues of such firms.
The Democratic Coalition also called for the scheme to be suspended. Party spokesman Zsolt Gréczy told a news conference that “there’s no need for criminals or terrorist groups”.
“Whoever has money, whether a criminal or even a terrorist, can easily get hold of the necessary documentation to enter Hungary unchecked, and from here into other EU member states,” he insisted, saying there is no constraint that the applicant must obtain proof they have no criminal record in their own country.
The Dialogue for Hungary party called on Sándor Pintér, the interior minister, to brief parliament’s national security committee about how it was possible that a convicted criminal had managed to game the system. Party politician Richárd Barabás told the press on Tuesday that an account must be given about how the person in question managed to evade the screenings of the counter-terrorism centre and the immigration office.
A government official on Tuesday dismissed the allegations contained in Magyar Nemzet’s article as “unserious”. Csaba Dömötör, cabinet parliamentary state secretary, said the article’s claims were based on slander. He added that the paper had neglected to name of the individual in question.
Dömötör said the ministry of the interior had reported several cases of security prescriptions, and all purchasers of residency bonds are screened several times by the police, national security organisations and the counter-terrorism centre.