The Information Office (Információs Hivatal) is aware of foreigners with financial grievances who want to disrupt the work of the government, according to the head of the foreign intelligence bureau. In an interview with weekly news magazine HVG this week, IH director István Pásztor acknowledged that his office “may be” investigating foreign transfers of money to political organisations in Hungary.
The intelligence chief revealed that the IH is definitely investigating individuals applying for permanent residence status in exchange for purchasing EUR 250,000 of government bonds under a law that took effect this year and is thought to offer the cheapest such arrangement in the EU.
Pásztor said applicants from Transylvania and the Western Ukraine were currently being vetted, but demurred when asked to comment on press reports that there had been considerable interest from Iran: “We must pay attention to any foreign intelligence,” he said.
Following the money
Pásztor – whom Prime Minister Viktor Orbán personally nominated for the top foreign intelligence post in September – also said his office had gathered “usable” information on money hidden in foreign banks by Hungarian citizens. The government declared in January that it plans to impose a heavy tax on as much as HUF 2 trillion (EUR 6.76 billion) presumed to be stashed away in primarily Swiss accounts.
While he acknowledged that it was “not customary” for secret services directors to give public interviews, Pásztor said recent changes in leadership meant it was “worth giving a little introduction to our activities”. The Information Office was recently placed under the direct control of the Prime Minister’s Office, whereas previously it was subordinate to the Foreign Ministry.
Far right’s foreign fears
The day before the interview with the foreign intelligence chief was posted online, a member of far-right party Jobbik, Lajos Pörzse, had asserted during parliamentary questions that numerous political groups – among them former premier Gordon Bajnai’s E14 electoral movement and the student union HaHa – were being funded from abroad.
Public Administration and Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics, in his reply to Pörsze, said that political parties and civil organisations are required by law to keep public accounts of their foreign income. As an MP, Pörzse is obliged to inform the authorities if he has any information relating to criminal activity, Navracsics said.
Look in the mirror: Field
Pörzse further alleged that US businessman Richard Field is one of Bajnai’s backers, an assertion that Field denied in an open letter to the nationalist MP that concluded: “I respectfully ask that you remove me from Jobbik’s list of scapegoats to be blamed for your country’s problems.”
By email and certified mail
I am writing to respond to remarks made by you during parliamentary question and answer period on Monday, February 18th, in which you characterize my decision to contribute to LMP’s 2010 parliamentary campaign and to contribute several hundred million forints to the Hungarian Red Cross as part of a campaign to “colonize Hungary.”
I trust the attached annual reports of the American House Foundation for 2011 and 2012 will satisfy your curiosity as to what the funds are used for. The Hungarian versions of the annual reports can be downloaded at www.amerikaihazalapitvany.hu.
Neither the State of Israel or any of its citizens are among our donors. As a private foundation we receive no government funding. As for the identity of our private American donors, I’m not at liberty to disclose that information and, in any case, it is none of your business. Unfortunately, George Soros is not among them.
Your statement that I “openly declared that I wished to support Gordan Bajnai’s Together 2014″ is factually incorrect. Allow me to point out that parliament is not Barikad magazine. You cannot simply invent “facts” to support foregone conclusions, however politically expedient they may be.
As you are certainly aware I pledged several months ago to refrain from contributing funds to Hungarian political parties in the future. For this reason I respectfully ask that you remove me from Jobbik’s list of scapegoats to be blamed for your country’s problems.