Hungarian newspaper 444.hu has launched a thorough investigation of the workings of the Hungarian National Trading House (MNKH). Daily News Hungary has reported on the HUF 2.7bn lost by the MNKH, which was revealed following two lawsuits that were filed against the company. 444.hu also discovered another questionable happening regarding a Hungarian trading house in Moscow.
The Moscow trading house was allegedly opened in 2013 by Péter Szijjártó, then State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Csaba Tarsoly, President-CEO of the Quaestor brokerage, which has since been involved in a large-scale scandal.
The opening of the Moscow office was part of Hungary’s foreign policy of opening to the East, which aims to find business partners for Hungarian companies in Eastern countries, so, in the end, not to depend so much on the west. Foreign minister Szijjártó’s work has mainly consisted of implementing this policy.
The news at the time was accompanied by the photo above, supplied by the MTI news agency, with a caption stating that Szijjártó and Tarsoly opened the Hungarian trading house in Moscow. Moreover, the trading house has its own website, and it also appeared in a 2015 ministry report.
However, the information released, following 444’s lawsuit against the MNKH, does not contain anything on a Russian trading house. When contacted, the company stated that, although it considered the region and negotiated with the company MVTD about the possibility of a trading house, no trading house was opened in Russia in the end.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to the allegations published in the 444.hu article by saying that the trading house in Russia is successful, and that the MNKH does not have to make profit, referring to the HUF 2.7bn lost by the company. The trading house in Moscow began as a private venture of Quaestor, and, as such, it is obviously not entitled to public funds, the ministry said. This does not mean that the MNKH did not conduct business dealings in Russia, but Quaestor did not participate in these, they said.
Nevertheless, according to 444.hu, the private venture was publicly endorsed by Foreign Minister Szijjártó, and it appeared on the MNKH website as well as a government website which said that it had been opened by the state in cooperation with the Quaestor Group to help the advance of small and medium-sized Hungarian enterprises in Russia.
Copy editor: bm