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Cui bono or the fall of Pál Völner
Since a couple of days Hungary’s ruling FIDESZ has another scandal. Because it is not that new but did not get too much attention out of Hungary I will give just a short summary before turning to the question in the title.
Hungary has changed its system of court bailiffs a couple of years ago. Because of many unquestioned shortcomings in the past the bailiffs need to have studied law since, as if this would be a guarantee for quality in any sense. Although having the powers of a public authority, Hungarian bailiffs run a for-profit business. Getting the licence and a profitable territorial area are the cornerstones of being successful. All bailiffs must be members of the MBVK (Magyar Bírósági Végrehajtói Kar), the Hungarian chamber of court bailiffs. The scandal started when the chairman of the chamber of bailiffs, György Schadl, lawyer and bailiff in Budaörs, was arrested on Budapest Airport when he wanted to fly to Dubai. Blikk reported about already on November 12th without revealing the name. It seems that 7 bailiffs paid Schadl in total 884 million Forint (2.4 million Euro) for their licence.
Since the MBVK is not the authority to grant the licence state secretary Pál Völner in the Ministry of Justice got involved. If you think to know his name you may be right, his name is also closely connected to the Pegasus scandal. Although Orbán and Völner knew each other since their common days attending university the latter is not among the high elite of the founding member of FIDESZ. Völner, who worked as lawyer for a long time, turned to politics in the 2000s only and served Orbán in several positions.
On May 22nd, 2018 Völner was appointed to his position as state secretary of Justice. And the same day he already accepted the first bribe in this position, 5 000 000 Ft (13 600 € as today) 444 reported. In total he got 83 million Forint (225 500 €) for appointing bailiffs as far as we know. In the meanwhile Völner resigned on December 7th and his immunity as MP was lifted on December 14th. The Minister of Justice Judit Varga remained silent and is extremely invisible, while she always was ordered to show the “beauty female side of FIDESZ” – if that is possible at all. Orbán himself in his Friday Prayer was not “asked” about this topic. In opposite to this Zsolt Semjén was available for comment, he said “I experienced Pál Völner as a very neat, excellent man.”
A couple of months before the elections not only a bribery scandal in highest ranks of FIDESZ was revealed, but is having very unusual consequences as well. How could this happen and most important: Cui bono?
Gergely Gulyás used the bribery case to declare: “the allegations that Hungary would not be a state governed by the rule of law have fallen to the dust, and anyone can do anything here without consequences. It is now clear to everyone that, even in the case of those in power, even if a crime is suspected, it has serious consequences. (24.hu)” Nice try! If I can exclude a reason definitely that we see here the rule of law at work only. Rule of law is if the same law is used regardless of case and person, not if a law is used selectively.
If needed the highest prosecutor of the country Péter Polt is able to decide in shortest time that no crime happened – we all might remember how fast the detailed documentation of fraud of the European anti-fraud agency OLAF was denied by Polt himself when the business of István Tiborcz, the husband of Ráhel Orbán, was “examined” and thrust aside. In this case Polt decided to act. What happened?
In the past we saw a couple of corruption cases prosecuted when some FIDESZ members or oligarchs were fighting against each other. Except the Pegasus scandal Völner did not get into the news as the average FIDESZ MP. He was never fighting for a promotion in public, he was hardly mentioned in the media except the Pegasus case. In my humble opinion this does not seem to be the case.
When mentioning Pegasus: Here could be a reason. Getting rid of Völner could be an easy and elegant way to create a scapegoat and clean the rest of the FIDESZ elite. A state secretary of Justice corrupting the chamber of bailiffs might be able to abuse his position for every thinkable disgraceful deed. May we hear in future that Völner on his own against the best knowledge and against the will of the innocent Hungarian government is the only guilty person in the Pegasus scandal? I would not exclude that.
HVG learned from recorded phone calls that Völner might be just an unimportant figure in this bribery. There is someone who has been called “gazda” by Schadl and who is obviously way more important and of higher influence than Völner was. Schadl met this person abroad. Gazda is a pretty flexible word and can be translated in many ways, among them farmer, someone’s master, or owner of something. The Hungarian adjective gazdag means wealthy, rich, or even fat. Another reason to suspect that Völner is a scapegoat only to protect someone else.
A really revealing and disturbing conversation between two experts on Pegasus:
It’s mostly used by intelligence agencies of repressive governments, like Azerbaijan, or Hungary, or Saudi Arabia. These are countries that feel that their citizenry is the enemy. They are repressive regimes that are based on authoritarian rule, on corruption, and on violence.
Silverstein was the first to write on the activities of NSO in 2018/2019 in jacobinmag.
Excellent first post! Congrats!
Congratulations István on your blog. Of course, Pál Völner is a pawn in many ways, for the voters and for the EU. Even the time is appropriate so “shortly” before the elections. I guess it is a typical Orban strategy. He surely knows the fairy tale Seven at one stroke. 😀 Le Maître Chat ou le Chat botté Orban in his fairy tale world. Cui bono Orban and his four hundred robbers.
By the way, this is a Hungarian problem – I remember the case of András Horváth, an honest tax official who uncovered structural and personnel problems during the MSZP-SZDSZ government of Ferenc Gyurcsány 2007. When Fidesz came to power in 2010, they did not accuse Gyurcsány – they adapted and “improved” the system. Cui bono gazda Mercedes, BMW, VW and Orban.