Hungary by atlatszo.hu
Businessman conned inside the National Office Building by a fake deputy minister
A Hungarian businessman was conned by criminals inside the National Office Building, the office of members of parliament. The CEO was promised lucrative taxpayer-funded jobs with the help of prominent politicians. He had already paid 23 million forints (approx. 71,000 euros) in bribes by the time he realized that he was conned and that the ‘deputy minister’ that he was introduced to was not a real politician. The case has national security implications as well: how did the criminals manage to enter a highly protected government building and take a guest there?
A businessman in Budapest was promised lucrative contracts with the state, facilitated by a deputy minister. He was told that he needed to pay a certain amount of money for the deal to materialize but to gain his trust, they told him that they would introduce him to the politician. The meeting took place in the National Office Building.
The businessman told Atlatszo that he had to wait long for the ’deputy minister’ to appear – he was told that the politician was extremely busy. However, a person showed up eventually, shook his hand and told him to go have lunch with his colleagues in the cafeteria. The ’deputy minister’ said that he would join the group for lunch later. He never did, but the businessman was taken to the cafeteria to eat.
’I was sitting there among all those politicians whom I only knew from TV until then and I thought that now anything is possible for my company’ he said.
Later he was taken by the con men to two towns in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county where he was told that he would be meeting mayors. These people promised road- and school-reconstruction jobs to him.
He began to suspect that he was conned when he was asked for money for the third time. By that time he had already paid 23 million forints in bribes to the criminals.
He went to the 19th district police in Budapest and reported the crime. ’I saw that the investigator started to despair because my story started in the National Office Building and he did not know who might be involved in the story later. I am sure he was relieved when the case was shifted to the 5th district police because of the location of the crime’ he said.
The incident happened in 2016 but the investigation is still ongoing. The Budapest Police Headquarters told Atlatszo that they are investigating the crime and that they have one suspect. The police confirmed that they reached out to the National Office Building as well.
We asked the police whether they notified the Constitution Protection Office, that is, the internal security intelligence agency about the incident because it happened in the National Office Building. The police said that they did not because it was not ’justified’ in this case.
The police did not reach out to the mayor of the town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén country, either. This was the person who supposedly promised contracts to the businessman.
Atlatszo talked to the mayor who said that he was not contacted by the police and that he does not remember any such meeting.
‘The story does not add up. We take care of small road reconstruction work ourselves. Participants in the workfare program do that work. The school has been run and managed by the church for five years now, so the town council has nothing to do with school reconstruction works’ the mayor said.
Security concerns in the National Office Building
An important question in this story is how the criminals entered the National Office Building. This is a tough question, though, because politicians working in the building welcome several guests every day.
A former intelligence agent told Atlatszo that if the investigation was carried out properly, police would notify those responsible for the security of the Parliament and the internal security intelligence agency as well.
Moreover, this was not the first such case in the building. Atlatszo reported two years ago that up to 90 pieces of hardware, including seven brand new laptops of the Fidesz party group, were stolen from the Parliament and the National Office Building by an employee. These are two of the most highly protected government buildings in the country, surveilled by many CCTV cameras.
National security concerns were also raised when Jobbik MP Ádám Mirkóczki found his office door open. The ministry of the interior quickly investigated the event and said that it was nothing but a case of a worn-out lock.
Written by Brigitta Csikász
English version by Anita Kőműves. You can read the original, Hungarian-language story here.
Cover photo: The National Office Building by Endre Simó/MTI