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OTP Bank denies Orban’s holiday visit on private island in the Adriatic Sea

Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary visited the private island of Sándor Csányi, CEO of OTP Bank, where he arrived in a black helicopter – Croatian news outlets rumored in August. Answering our questions, OTP Bank denied having any guests this summer on the island of Smokvica Vela, which is indeed leased by the Croatian subsidiary of the Balansz Real Estate Fund managed by the largest Hungarian financial institute.

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Croatian press recently reported that the Croatian island Smokvica Vela was leased by OTP Bank, and Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán might have spent his summer holiday there, arriving in a black helicopter.

Smokvica Vela is a small and uninhabited Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, located southeast of Kornat. The picturesque island features luxury properties, sports fields and restaurants, some former military objects, and it is closed to the general public.

The island is owned by the Croatian state, and earlier was leased by Ivica Todoric, former owner and chairman of Agrokor, the largest privately owned company in Croatia. According to the forementioned croatian press report, Sándor Csányi, CEO of OTP Bank was a frequent guest on the private island when it was rented by Todoric.

However, Todoric gave up the island recently, and it was offered to new investors. The new renter is a croatian subsidiary of OTP Bank, which leased the island for 6 million croatian kunas (approximately 260 million forints or 900.000 USD) for 30 years – Croatian daily Jutarnij List reported in 2018.

We wanted to learn more about the island and it’s guests, so we contacted the OTP Communications Department to ask the following questions:

  • Did Viktor Orbán or any other Hungarian politician spend their summer holiday on Smokvica Vela?
  • What are OTP’s plans for the island?
  • How much is the annual rent of the island?
  • Who can visit the island and under what conditions?

While OTP Bank’s Communications and Public Relations Department did not specifically answer our questions, they provided the following official reply via email:

“The island Smokvica Vela is the property of the Republic of Croatia, and the owner of the right to lease the island is ZELENA NEKRETNINA doo, which is owned by the Balansz Real Estate Fund.

The ownership structure of OTP Bank is public: Sándor Csányi does not have a controlling interest in OTP Bank Plc. or OTP Group, therefore it is not correct to say that the Croatian island Smokvica Vela leased by Balansz Real Estate Fund is the property of Sándor Csányi in any way.

The owners of Balansz Real Estate Fund are investment unit holders, among whom Sándor Csányi is not a controlling shareholder either.

Due to developments on the island, it has not yet welcomed guests in the summer of 2019 and the subsequent months. Services on the island are expected to be available next summer.”

However, if Sándor Csányi really rented the island (what is clearly not the case according to the statement above), it would not be surprising if Viktor Orbán visited it. The CEO of OTP maintains an outstandingly good relationship with the Prime Minister of Hungary.

For example, the Prime Minister was traveling to football matches and official visits flying an OTP-owned private airplane displaying the “Government of Hungary” label around the world.

Private jet owned by OTP Bank identifies itself as Hungarian governmental aircraft

The prime minister has probably flown aboard Hungarian bank OTP’s private jet (worth approx. HUF 11 billion) to soccer matches and official meetings several times. There is a video posted to Viktor Orban’s Facebook page showing his arrival to Berlin onboard this airplane (registered as HA-LKZ) to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Hungarian government officials claimed that these trips were presented to Orbán as a gift, Csányi later said in an interview that the PM always paid for the private jet flights. It is still not clear how the PM can afford such services designed for the super-rich only.

Viktor Orbán is also a frequent visitor in Croatia, he spent his summer holiday this year and last year as well in an undisclosed location at the Adriatic seashore.

Written and translated by Eszter Katus

You can read the original, Hungarian language story here.



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