Oligarchopedia: Tamás Leisztinger

As we promised recently, Atlatszo.hu launches the Hungarian Oligarchopedia to sum up all the pieces of information we know about the people who use their power and wealth to control politics. We’ve set up some basic parameters to characterise oligarchs and to rank their impact on our elected representatives, authorities and media.

Oligarchopedia kicks off with Tamás Leisztinger.

Leisztinger graduated as a physician in the early ‘90s but never worked in his profession. He started his carreer with cab driving and trading with cars, computers and Finnish-style wooden houses. In 1994-1995, the first years of Gyula Horn’s socialist-liberal coalition government he started a company named after the French mathematician-physician Francois Arago. That time Arago dealed with so called compensation coupons which made Leisztinger capable to buy state assets such as the ones of the Eravis and Hunguest Hotels groups. His name became well-known from buying companies such as Pick, Zalakerámia and BÁV using loans and selling their remnants of these companies for huge profits.

After Fidesz took power in 2002 he faced investigations which made him go abroad . In these years Leisztinger was rumoured to want to take over power in  the Socialist Party with the help of young or even non-existing members.

After Socialists and Free Democrats formed their new coalition in 2002 he purchased the former trade union assets and part of the stock- exchange as well as the commodity market which two he sold to Austrian investors. His newly acquired Forrás Rt was supported by state loans and he also started to buy assets at the Kopaszi Gát, a valuable riverbank area on the Buda side of the Danube, next to Rákóczi bridge and the Simicska owned Budai Hengermalom. The whole area of Kopaszi Gát got in to his hands after re-electing the government in 2006. According to press informations the acquisition was supported by MDF, a former conservative party which was filled with Leisztinger-related members and helped the socialist coalition from the opposition. Leisztinger sold the territory to Portuguese entrepreneurs in 2007 which was followed by a denunciation by Fidesz accusing him of negotiating with the buyers one year before getting the lands.

Investigations started against his businesses before the 2010 elections. Leisztinger was also accused of blackmailing and relations to corruption scandals at the BKV, the Budapest transport company. After the Fidesz won a landslide victory in 2010,  he started to sell off his wealth but also kept some agricultural interests which still get EU grants. Leisztinger has been trying to build friendly relations with Fidesz, which could be a possible reason to buy the football team of Debrecen.

Oligarchorank: 3,3

– wealth: 4

– political impact: 4

– media impact: 2

Sign: Chess player with white gloves

Best quote: „You wanna be shot or be beaten to death?”

Best oligarch friend: Sándor Csányi