15 Mar 2018

Hungarian Deputy PM can't explain luxury trips

Hungary's deputy prime minister has taken luxury hunting trips in Sweden, but according to his financial statements, the conservative politician can't afford such lavish adventures.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Hungarian Deputy PM can't explain luxury trips - NewsMavens
Moose. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

After avoiding questions about the pricey Swedish hunting trips for days, deputy prime minister Zsolt Semjen admitted the trips were paid for by a friend, Jozsef Farkas -- a businessman involved in politics.

If Farkas did in fact pay Semjen's way, it raises new questions about possible corruption and undue influence.

If Farkas didn't pay for the trips, it means the deputy prime minister lied twice.

In a healthy democracy, any of these scenarios would lead to a resignation. Hungarians should demand no less. The worst thing to do would be to shrug and say it's "politics as usual."


Details from the story:

  • Zsolt Semjen, the leader of the Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) has less than 16,000 EUR in savings. But a series of Swedish hunting trips are estimated to cost about 4 to 5 million HUF (12,800-16,000 EUR) a piece.
  • Semjen initially said that he went to Sweden to meet distant family members and took no part in the hunting.
  • Semjen eventually explained that Josef Farkas, who has benefitted from public procurement tenders in Hungary, paid for the trips to Sweden.
  • Parkas' companies have received 530 million HUF in governmental and EU-funds.
  • Parkas was involved in another scandal a few years ago: a company affiliated with him won 25 million HUF in EU funds to write original educational material, but instead, the company translated an American university's publication.
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