Orbán village mayor new entry to Hungary’s Richest 100

A new entry to the Hungarian rich list, the prime minister’s close friend Lőrinc Mészáros was estimated to be the 88th wealthiest person in the country in 2013, with a HUF 6.9 billion fortune.

His wealth has soared since he became Felcsút village mayor in a 2011 by-election after his predecessor – one of the few to defeat a Fidesz candidate in the 2010 local election landslide – was dismissed for having of a small outstanding public debt. However Mészáros has always denied that his growing wealth is connected to his proximity to Hungary’s political elite. “I am Lőrinc Mészáros. I have never privatized anything, nor won any tenders. I have achieved everything alone,” the mayor of Viktor Orbán’s childhood village of Felcsút, Fejér county, told atlatszo.hu in an interview over a year ago.

Mészáros has fingers in many pies: besides his mayoral duties, he heads the Puskás Football Academy in Felcsút, owns Mészáros and Mészáros Ltd, manages Búzakalász 66 Ltd and is the managing owner of Mészáros Car Repair Ltd. The village mayor, whose brother János is a Fidesz councilor, has built a small empire around Felcsút, Alcsútdoboz and Bicske in recent years.

Felcút’s mayor has been extremely successful in Fejér county land leasing tenders called by the National Land Distribution Agency, which prompted the then Fidesz MP József Ángyán to quit the party caucus over alleged land sale corruption, becoming the first and to date only Fidesz MP to do so. The firm of the prime minister’s father Győző Orbán CZG Real Estate Agency Ltd bought Hatvan-Puszta farm in Alcsútdoboz in July 2011. Mészáros has a 20-year lease on the 13-hectare state-owned site of historic value via 66 Ltd. Viktor Orbán’s wife Anikó Lévai also owns land there.

Corruption allegations from Ángyán and opposition MPs had no effect on Mészáros: “I don’t give a shit, I don’t give a shit about what others say about me, because believe me, I am self-assured enough and I am from Alföld,” he argued.

Showing similar chutzpah, Mészáros ordered a shepherd in Alcsútdoboz-Göböljárás to retire his herd and retained only the sheepfold in case the next shepherd would want it. Crops were uprooted, pens built then left empty and finally animals from another Mészáros farm were relocated there.

The mayor of Felcsút is not only interested in agriculture but also in football and managed to connect the two in Göböljárás, the location of the agriculture department of the vocational school belonging to the Puskás Academy. It is operated by the Foundation for Rising Generation of Felcsút (FRGF) and overseen by, you guessed it, Lőrinc Mészáros. The Felcsút Representatives Body sold a 1.5-hectare land to the foundation of the mayor for HUF 150 million in April 2012, extending a 2.2-hectare plot sold by Tamás File to the soccer school. File’s brother co-owns land with the premier’s wife, and cultivates it, according to locals, something not mentioned in the properties’ official documents.

Meanwhile the Puskás Academy is on the up: Mészáros’s plan is to make it the Europe’s largest training centre. Lack of resources is not a problem: in the 2011-12 funding year it received HUF 2.8 billion, the following year the Hungarian FA awarded it HUF 2.2 billion. This amount of money is enough to build a 3,500-seater stadium next to the prime minister’s house – in a village of 1,800 residents. The subsidies coming into the foundation soared to HUF 2.13 billion in 2012, from HUF 512 million a year earlier.

The FRGF received HUF 850 million in 2012, up from HUF 658 million in 2011. The profit in 2012 was HUF 1.7 billion: nearly five times up year-on-year, while total income was in 2012 HUF 2.97 billion up from HUF 1.19 billion. At this rate Lőrinc Mészáros will continue to climb the list of the wealthiest Hungarians in 2014.

Translated by atlatszo.hu volunteers, the original Hungarian text was published on 12 November 2013. Edited by Dan Nolan.