Fidesz regime gave residency permits to Bashar al-Assad’s financial backers

A joint investigative journalism project by the Direkt36 website and by 444.hu reports that since 2012, people believed to be stooges for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have received Hungarian residency permits. In at least one of these cases, Hungary welcomed a Syrian man believed to be involved in the trafficking of weapons, drugs and people, as well as money laundering, while in several instances Hungarian authorities allowed leading figures of the Syrian regime, accused of war crimes, to settle in the country.

The story began two months ago, when an anonymous individual dropped off an envelope to the offices of both Direkt36 and 444, including the names of citizens from countries who have bought residency rights in Hungary. Thanks to a new program launched by the Orbán government, but administered on behalf of Hungary by off-shore companies, 250,000 euros can buy non-EU citizens residency bonds in Hungary. An estimated 20,000 foreigners, mostly from the Arab world, China and Russia, have purchased such residency bonds.

The HelloHungary sign in Central Budapest

The journalists of the two media organs spent the last few months confirming that the people disclosed by name on these lists are, indeed, residing in Hungary. They found that many of these people have registered companies in Hungary, others have published photos on social media showing them and their families to be in Hungary, while in some cases sources confirmed their presence in the country.

One of the Syrian citizens who received a residency permit in Hungary is Salmo Bazkka. A leading financial figure with close ties to the Syrian regime, he is accused by authorities in Italy of being a member of an international money laundering, weapons and human trafficking ring. Two of Mr. Bazkka’s stepsons are suspected of the same by Italian authorities. A second Syrian individual with ties to President Assad, Atiya Khoury, is considered by the Americans as being a stooge of the Syrian dictator. It appears that both men, along with their families, have bought residency in Hungary, though Bazkka himself is currently reported to be in Italy. And this is why a residency permit in Hungary is so valuable: it effectively opens the doors to the European Union’s entire Schengen Zone.

Considering that serious accusations have been raised in Italy against one of the men, has Hungary’s Chief Prosecutor, Péter Polt, launched any investigation? Naturally, he has not. Mr.  Polt is a former Fidesz politician. Instead, his Office confirmed that it has cooperated with Italian authorities by handing over to them relevant banking information and telephone records, but has no plans to launch its own investigation in Hungary.

In the case of Atiya Khoury, we are dealing with a high-ranking operative of the Syrian regime who runs Moneta Transfer & Exchange–a financial agency focused on coordinating money transfers and currency exchange. The Americans believe that the system run by Mr. Khoury has helped the Assad regime purchase fuel and the owner of this system received commissions for his work. The Americans note that Mr. Khoury has moved significant amounts of money between Syria and Lebanon, as well as between Syria and Russia.

As it turns out, Hungary is not picky whatsoever when it comes to selling residency to highly questionable people from the Middle East, Russia or Asia. In fact, government officials confirmed that out of more than 20,000 applicants, only 64 people were rejected. In other words, the acceptance rate for foreigners looking to buy their way into Hungary is 99.7%.

Let that sink in: the Orbán regime, which for the past two years has railed incessantly against refugees and foreigners, lets in 99.7% of people who have at least 250,000 euros to deposit with shady off shore companies that are tasked with managing this process for Hungary.

 

18 Comments

  1. Budapest is the bridge to the EU, to America, for the criminal underworld of the former Soviet Republics, for Putin’s GRU, and Mafia States like Syria, that are doing quite well now under Donald Trump’s “hands off” policy. As long as these folks purchase some US made military hardware, put up a Trump Tower, or a Golf course, help out in his cyber war on truth, the Potus will be nice. The tip of the iceberg on the biggest money laundering scandal engaged in by a member government of the EU has just appeared at the surface of the water. Keep your eyes posted here for more details on this. The HFP always delivers.

  2. Evidently the professor has not yet read the US Constitution.
    The president can only propose, that is to ask Congress for whatever he/she wants.
    Only Congress can make laws. Approve budgets, international agreements, nominations of his cabinets, courts, ambassadors, etc,etc.
    Simply because Congress (Senate) alone represents all the member states and (the House) their population.
    That is how democracy supposed to function !

    Only Putin, Raul, Maduro, Kim, Xi, etc. follow the professor’s assumption !
    Only in the individual member states where everything is by the vote of the general population.

  3. Don Hermiston says:

    Bashar Al Assad does not deal in drugs or human trafficking. That is more in the style of the thugs from Israel who are in the process of trying to Balkanize the Middle East and foment war using the U.S. as a proxy.

  4. What other EU member state uses offshore companies to manage the sale of residency bonds? Guess Hungary is a banana republic…

  5. 1) The residency program raised 5 billion Euros that went towards Hungary’s bond market. That is 10% of the entire market over the past five years. This must have had a positive effect on Hungarian yields, meaning that Hungary’s economy has benefited immensely. And unlike the migrants (not refugees) who paid thousands of Euros to people smugglers to make it to the promised land, Hungary actually had a chance to take a look at these people before they were approved and showed up. I am sure that out of 20,000 people some are rotten apples, but as I pointed out, at least these guys brought Hungary some direct economic benefit. The migrants that you think should be accepted have been draining the EU of tens of billions of Euros per year, with the price of a ticket bought from crime rings, with some of the money thought to be going to terror groups.

    2) In terms of the Syrian individual in question, who is facing an investigation in Italy, forgive me for raising an issue of simple logic, but for Hungary’s government to start an investigation, there have to be some leads in regards to a crime committed in Hungary. In the absence of such evidence, assisting Italy with its investigation is the correct thing to do, which it seems Hungary is doing.

    3) “The Americans believe that the system run by Mr. Khoury has helped the Assad regime purchase fuel”

    So the grand accusation is the purchase of fuel? I was not aware that it is illegal for Syria to purchase fuel! To be clear, US & EU sanctions do not amount to globally enforceable sanctions. In other words, if this guy coordinated the sale of fuel to Syria from China or Iran, there was no law broken, as long as Hungarian institutions were not involved in coordinating it.

    And this accusation coming from a government which in the interest of regime change is thought to have supported Jihadist groups in Syria, in collusion with the Saudis and others. Some of that suport may have contributed to the rise of ISIS in the early years of the coup attempt, as well as the rise of Al-Qaeda in Syria.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-hughes/us-support-for-al-qaeda-l_b_10089410.html

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-america-armed-terrorists-in-syria/

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      Are you aware that these bonds are effectively loans, which the Hungarian state must pay back with interest? The offshore companies chosen by the government and tasked as being intermediaries are the ones that make a significant profit on this.

      • I am fully aware of how the bond market works. Creating demand for those bonds is the benefit that is derived from the scheme. For instance, if Hungarian bonds would currently yield only 1% more than they do currently, Hungary would currently have to pay an extra $1 billion or so in interest on its government debt every year. The commission fees that go towards the offshore intermediary is peanuts compared to such savings on interest costs. Not to mention the secondary benefits throughout Hungary’s economy, such as lower interest on mortgage & other debt. Of course the intermediary bond will make a profit. But did you know that when Hungary or any country issues bonds on a foreign market, there are also intermediaries collecting fees? It is the way it works!

      • CORRUPTION cont.
        The Orbán mafia doesn’t even pretend much:
        “Propaganda minister” Antal Rogán, (who, along with A.Habony, is suspected of being a major beneficiary the resid.bond fees) was proclaimed software inventor (?!?) in 2016 and now received $ 154 000 of royalties paid (you wouldn’t believe the gall of it) into a Swiss bank acc, the other two co-inventors/owners voted themselves $ 3.85 each, yes – 3.86.
        Btw their other co received earlier almost $ 1 million of development grant from the state/EU funds…
        https://index.hu/gazdasag/2016/08/11/rogan_mobilsign_elektronikus_alairas/

        Mèszàros both properties on the Bodrog river front, just before tourism development grants were announced for this location …

        In the almost $ 400 million Questor broker house bust more information was reported, reinforcing earlier allegations of
        – illegal preferential treatment of some creditors (eg Min of Foreign Affairs, City Council of Györ and other towns)
        – illegal sales of assets by Hu Nat Bank receiver/manager.
        The stunning fact is that the bulk of the money is still to be found.

        And … there is no end of the corruption orgy …

    • HFP
      Orban selling the security of Hun/EU is one problem.
      GRAND CORRUPTION (what else) is another one:
      $ 300 million approx worth of fees were pocketed by completely opaque small offshore cos instead of being collected by the Hun state, which regularly sells bonds.
      There are four institutions perfectly capable of selling something in high demand:
      – the trade missions (attached to embassies)
      – the newly created (dud) Trading Houses around the world
      – AKK – the special agency handling foreign foregn debt, and
      – the Ministry of Finance,
      but it would have been much more difficult to steal the money if they entered the public domain.

      • Hungarian state sells bonds only in forints. For FX you have to issue in London for Euros or Pounds, Tokyo for Yen and so on. Previous government issued at least 50 billion Euros worth of those FX bonds, which not only sadled Hungary with toxic FX debt, but also ended up paying similar fees for issuance.

      • Peter
        Pretty dumb to mix issue with sales.
        The Hu gov does issue FX bonds now: Last issue of Euro bonds end of 2017
        https://www.portfolio.hu/deviza-kotveny/allampapir/ma-jon-az-uj-magyar-eurokotveny.264129.html
        Coming issue of Yen bonds worth close to $ 1 billion.

        What a BS your “toxit debt” used for gov bonds, even with the low rating.

        Finally, MNB is trying everything to stimulate growth (opposite to Jàrai in 2004-6) with losses (and little success). https://www.reuters.com/article/hungary-rates/update-2-hungarian-central-bank-holds-rates-to-maintain-loose-monetary-conditions-idUSL8N1PP5QL
        Bthttps://www.reuters.com/article/hungary-rates/update-2-hungarian-central-bank-holds-rates-to-maintain-loose-monetary-conditions-idUSL8N1PP5QL
        Bthttps://www.reuters.com/article/hungary-rates/update-2-hungarian-central-bank-holds-rates-to-maintain-loose-monetary-conditions-idUSL8N1PP5QL

        Btw MNB FX reserves dropped from E 35 to 19 bil under Matolcsy. A very small umbrella for the next storm.

        • Yes it does, but my understanding is that the FX portion of total debt has declined from about 50%, to less than 25% at the moment.

          As for the decline in the central bank FX reserves, it mostly occurred due to consumer FX debt conversion. Do not mix the two. Furthermore, while the FX reserves declined, so did FX liabilities, by a much wider margin, therefore Hungary far less vulnerable now.

          And also your 19 billion figure is wrong, it seems to be 22.5 billion at the moment.

          https://tradingeconomics.com/hungary/foreign-exchange-reserves

        • Péter
          MNB FX reserves – I can’t recall the source, but
          You are right (if we trust) the MNB figures it is 22.5 billion down from top 37 bil.
          https://www.mnb.hu/letoltes/en0403-tartalek.xls
          It’s still a 15 bil or 40% drop.
          The reduction of the FX part of the GGdebt is good. Don’t know it’s structure by maturity of bonds. In a crisis the trend can turn immediately without reserves.

  6. CORRUPTION in Orbanistan – dozens of cases presented in English:

    https://transparency.hu/en/news/ti-hungary-releases-black-book-corruption/

  7. Hey, Hungary is the 27th most corrupt country out of the 28 EU nations.
    That actually is not so bad.
    They beat Bulgaria.
    Actually could have been the 28th ,and a mile behind all the others.
    But it does not state that what “yard-stick” was actually used to measure corruption in government.
    It does not breack down various sectors of the nation, or its economies.

    It’s proven again ,that “least government is the best government”.
    Do not forget also, that “government does not create wealth, only redistributes wealth”.
    And the working, producing taxpayers are never on the receiving end of that line.

  8. Guys
    Sorry, i let myself get sidetracked from the security and corruption of the Orban Mafia into bond issues. I know this old tactic of “you beat the blacks in the US”, but felt compelled to shoot down the twisting and lies the fideszniks are piling on earlier twistings and lies.

  9. Facts are facts – the governing Party’s inner circle (Rogán, Töröcskei and many more) is enriching itself itself by selling residency permits/EU passports to tens of thousands of crooks, speculators and Russian GRU operatives, who otherwise would not be able to enter Europe and America. The facts are, that according to official EU estimates, (OLAF report 2017), of the EU’s 28 member states, the highest %-age of fraudulent use of EU funds is in Hungary, where, no surprise, the distribution of these public funds is in the hands of the Prime Minister’s Office. This is just one of the many reasons why Orbán’s Hungary is a mafia state. And this is also just one of the many reasons why trolls like Peter, and Bendy, come here under assumed names to spread fake news.

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