Ildikó Vida has resigned as head of Hungary’s tax authority NAV, the economy ministry announced on Monday. Vida was widely considered a confidente of businessman Lajos Simicska, who was a long-time ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán until their relationship turned sour when Orbán decided to lessen Simicska’s significant financial influence after the 2014 election.
Until a successor is appointed, vice-president Árpád Varga will head the National Tax and Customs Administration, the ministry said. Although the announcements were made on Monday, Vida had tendered her resignation on May 20. Relevant laws allow for a two-month notice period, the ministry said. The new tax chief would be selected after key components in a planned reform to the authority had been implemented.
The announcement came as little surprise because various government officials had already been hinting at changes atop the tax office.
Vida admitted last autumn that she is among the six individuals who are banned from the United States due to allegedly being involved in corruption.
Commenting on her resignation, green LMP party suggested that Vida should have resigned much earlier, over what the party sees as NAV’s reluctance to launch a probe into major VAT fraud reported to the authority a year and a half ago.
LMP insisted that “the government was covering up” for Vida ever since November 2013, and “did not make her resign before it saw as necessary in its war with oligarchs”. The government’s secrecy over the resignation, tendered two months ago, is unacceptable, the party said.
The opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) said the country would be “out of the frying pan and into the fire” if “another corrupted Orbán favourite” replaces Vida at the helm of NAV.
PM insisted that the government is not interested in fighting corruption and it keeps putting off steps to identify those responsible for major graft.
According to the Hungarian Socialist Party, Vida’s resignation is “a stage in the mafia war”, and ruling Fidesz and Economy Minister Mihály Varga “have lied all along”.
Socialist deputy leader Zoltán Gőgös said the government had tried to “whitewash” Vida, who had been banned from the US under corruption charges. Her resignation “equals pleading guilty” but it will “not resolve any of the shady deals”, Gőgös said. He demanded a comprehensive probe. According to the press release of the Socialist party, Vida’s resignation also “warns Fidesz that corrupted governments are doomed for failure”.
Radical nationalist Jobbik deputy group leader János Volner said Fidesz and Vida should explain to the public the real reasons of her resignation. “We would be interested to know what’s behind her move,” Volner said on Monday.
The prime minister and senior Fidesz officials had previously taken her defence and Orbán even said in connection with her ban from the US that he saw no evidence that could justify it, Volner said.