The Orbán government transferred hundreds of millions of forints to Hungarian Canadians

The State Secretariat for National Policy of the Prime Minister’s Office has produced a break-down of unprecedented government subsidies provided to Hungarian Canadians between 2014 and 2017, following a query sent to State Secretary Árpád Potápi from our Hungarian-language publication, the Kanadai Magyar Hírlap.

On October 20th, we had specifically asked the State Secretary what measures it had in place to ensure transparency and accountability when funding Hungarian community ventures in Canada, as well as information on subsidies sent to Canada and a confirmation that no Hungarian state funds landed in the private bank accounts of Canadian citizens. As we had not received a response for more than three weeks, on Thursday we published our original query to the State Secretariat.

In under 24 hours, the department of the Prime Minister’s Office reached out to us and asserted that it had sent us the requested information a week prior, noting that perhaps there was a technical glitch and we had not received their response. Gabriella Tóth Debreceni, deputy department head, then added: “The response addressed to you was posted to the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa’s website days ago.” I looked up the Embassy of Hungary’s website and what I found was a heavily edited version of the letter addressed to me, published in an entirely misleading manner. The Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa published a version of the letter where all references to the fact that this was a response to a query from the Kanadai Magyar Hírlap had been deleted. Moreover, the embassy added a misleading statement to its homepage. It claimed that the reason it was taking the unusual step of publishing a breakdown of subsidised Hungarian Canadian organizations and the letter was because it “wished to inform the Hungarian Canadian community, in light of the upcoming Diaspora Council meeting in Budapest.” This is both deceptive and disingenuous on the part of the embassy.

What do we learn from the letter and the detailed break-down of disclosed subsidies dating back to 2014? First of all, I recommend those who read Hungarian to view the unedited letter and break-down in full here. (The link will open up the original Word file sent to us by the State Secretariat.)

We can see, for instance, that the Hungarian government provided the following subsidies, among many others:

  • 10 million forints to a bi-monthly publication entitled Kalejdoszkóp, or more specifically to a group called the Kalejdoszkóp Hagyományőrző Klub, based in Toronto.
  • 50 million forints to the “Kanadai Magyar Kulturális Tanács” (Canadian Hungarian Cultural Council), a group that does not have a website.
  • 52 million forints to help build the First Hungarian Baptist Church in Toronto.
  • 129 million forints to help build the new Hungarian House, or the Hungarian Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto.
  • 6 million forints to the Rákóczi Foundation.
  • 1.5 million forints to the Hungarian School of Montreal to launch an “experimental kindergarten” (kísérleti óvoda in Hungarian), as well as 700,000 forints to allow children from Montreal to travel to Hungary.
  • 4 million forints for a folk dance ensemble in Vancouver called the “Vancouveri Forrás Magyar Néptáncegyüttesnek.”
  • 2 million forints to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Toronto.
  • And many more initiatives.

While we are thankful that the State Secretariat disclosed this information to us, remarking that the operational tasks of disbursing, tracking and accounting for these monies falls within the purview of the state-owned Bethlen Gábor Alapkezelő Zrt., we note that we are still unclear as to whether the Hungarian government can confirm that public Hungarian funds have not landed in, or were later disbursed from, private Canadian bank accounts. Moreover, we have concerns and follow-up questions pertaining to the rigours of accountability and transparency demanded and enforced by the State Secretariat. We will follow up within the coming days.


  1. The title of the article is misleading, in that the Hungarian government did NOT transfer money to Hungarians living in Canada, but to Hungarian organizations that function in Canada.

    Mr. Adam gave a more explicit details of the case in the KMH. But as I stated in the KMH responce, while it is absolutely needles act and very questionable, yet it is in compliance of Hungary’s Alaptorveny.

    Hungary has taken legal responsibility for Hungarians, I assume could only be considered those of the so called “dual citizens”, living abroad. The budget and all expenditures has to be approved by the Parliament, by a 2/3 majority, that also supervises.

    So, in case anybody is unhappy about this, any complaints now is totally useless.

    The expenditures appear to be senseless, but legal.

    • To make a political football out of this kind of issue will win them no support among North American Hungarians, who are probably among all Hungarians, less inclined to support Orban compared with much poorer Hungarians in neighboring countries.

  2. Bendeguz 79: Paying foreign organizations is consistent with the Hungarian government’s pretense of authority over Hungarians everywhere. The excellent question Mr. Adam raises is not whether this practice is legal or even reasonable, but whether this particular scheme is real or a ruse. Given the government’s earnest belief that it isn’t accountable, anyone trying to “follow the money” will face frustration and hostility.

  3. Bende
    Quite misleading and okain wrong:

    Tge n “legal responsibility” can be for Hun citizens living abroad
    Although the Orban regime often claims to feel responsible, in practice it supports only organizations pledging loyalty and serving its political interests. The regime has tried to subordinate or, alternatively, to destroy any independent org. from political party to the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

    The budget bill passage doesn’t require 2/3 majority.

  4. Oh, poor you. You mean the Hungarian government aides Hungarian Canadians, just as the Italian government aides Italian-Canadians?

    Sending millions to Canada. You make it sound like some form of money laundering scheme. When the truth is, the Hungarian government has aided Hungary’s foreign policy there, by for one, funding the building churches and community centers, and civic organizations for elderly and young Hungarians.

  5. Ok, really?? And this is the truth? Maybe yours. If he made it sound like money laundering, then he just did not want to be explicit about it. I mean yes, wake up, this is all political corruption and nothing else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *