Lőrinc Mészáros became the richest Hungarian, according to the last top 100 list put together regularly by a team led by Péter Szakonyi. The emerging wealth of the prime minister’s childhood friend has increased by approximately HUF 185 billion (€ 535 million) in the past year, surpassing OTP bank head Sándor Csányi, which has held a leading financial position since 2011 Both the prime minister and the opposition commented on the results.
According to the creators ‘estimates, Lőrinc Mészáros’ wealth currently amounts to HUF 455 billion (€ 1.3 billion), while Sándor Csányi is “behind schedule” with HUF 420 billion (€ 1.2 billion). Docler Group owner György Gattyán, who amassed his wealth thanks to his adult content streaming site, LiveJasmin, ranks third with HUF 305 billion (€ 883 million).
The listing also revealed that the ten richest Hungarians own around HUF 2.506 billion (EUR 7.3 billion) of assets, HUF 669 billion more than a year earlier.
Mészáros, a gas engineer by profession, has become the richest man in Hungary over the past eleven years. Its rapid rise, largely thanks to the huge number of state and community contracts won by its companies, has naturally led to controversy and criticism with many opinionated favoritism and corruption in the background. Furthermore, speculation goes so far as to suggest that his companies are acting as an informal black fund for the Prime Minister. The list (and the emergence of Mészáros) surfaced once again at the recent government press briefing, held by surprise by the Prime Minister himself.
Orbán regularly refuses to comment on both the economic success of his family (his son-in-law István Tiborcz is 37th on the list) and that of Mészáros’ companies, saying that politics and business should be kept separate and that he and the government have no competence in business matters. This time he responded in the same way, saying that the rich in Hungary must respect two principles: “All rules must be followed and all taxes must be paid,” adding that more income leads to more taxes, which is good for the budget. In a general reflection on the list, Orbán also stated that of the 100 richest Hungarians, 80 still come from the left, which means that “… we are still far from the desirable balance”.
He also explained that unlike the left (citing former liberal left-wing premieres Gordon Bajnai, Ferenc Gyurcsány and Péter Medgyessy who all came from the business world), right-wing politicians try to stay out of business.
The opposition attacks Orbán and Mészáros
Mészáros’ first place status and further enrichment, coupled with Orbán’s comments, angered the opposition. “Viktor Orbán’s wealth …, or rather, Lőrinc Mészáros’s wealth, increased by HUF 185 billion during the crisis (…) There is no more obvious example of the government’s handling of the economic crisis, this is when 1 percent of the privileged get rich at the expense of the rest of the 99 .. “ commented the mayor of Budapest. In addition to highlighting several cases in which he believes the government’s management of the crisis has failed, Gergely Karácsony he insists that Orbán is competent in answering the question, as was his government which provided three quarters of the funds for the economic protection of its clients, most of which went to the interests of Mészáros.
Jobbik PM leader and candidate, Peter Jakab, referring to the recently announced national consultations, he stated that “Rather, people should be asked if they think Orbán has anything to do with the immeasurable enrichment of his own family and Mészáros, and whether the stolen money will go back to those who worked for him.Well, the mafia boss no longer consults at national level on this, because he knows the answer.And we know it.That’s why it will pay for everything! “
In reaction to the report, DK deputy parliamentary group leader, Gergely Arato said, “We all know what it means: [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán became the richest Hungarian thanks to his intermediary, “he said.
While the honest majority tried to cope with the coronavirus and the resulting crisis, “… the few Fidesz, including the prime minister, have shoveled hundreds of billions of public goods out of the country,” Arató said, adding that these money would have been taken back if a new government took office in 2022.
If the opposition alliance were to win the 2022 elections, a “state of corruption emergency” would be declared and the assets of the “Fidesz oligarchs” would be frozen, Klára Dobrev, DK‘s prime minister candidate, he said. Dobrev has promised to set up an independent anti-corruption prosecutor and a special police force to investigate corruption cases. Furthermore, a government formed by the current opposition would like Hungary to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
No surprise: Orbán remains in command as Hungary’s most influential leader
The same team also put together 50 of the most influential Hungarian personalities along with the rich list (subjectively made up of 11 political analysts). A little less surprisingly, this year’s top ten basically consists only of politicians or businessmen from the government and Fidesz in power close to the government circles:
PM Viktor Orban
The aforementioned Sándor Csányi
The aforementioned Lőrinc Mészáros
Interior Minister Sándor Pintér
Cabinet Minister Antal Rogán
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó
The leader of the National Bank (MNB) György Matolcsy
István Garancsi., Businessman allied with Orban
Finance Minister Mihály Varga
Director of the Fidesz party and president of Ferencváros Gábor Kubatov
Furthermore, the mayor of Budapest Karácsony (of the opposition Párbeszéd) is the 22nd, while the former premier and leader of the DK Ferenc Gyurcsány is the 27th. Gyurcsány’s wife, MEP candidate and prime minister of the DK, Klára Dobrev is 37th.
close-up image: PM Orbán (left) and Lőrinc Mészáros; via Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI