Pressure on Hungarian central bank governor expands to include links to offshore company

By bne IntelliNews May 4, 2016

The cousin of Gyorgy Matolcs, governor of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB), owned an offshore company between 2009-2010, local press reported on May 4.

The reports appear to contradict statements from the Hungarian central bank chief that neither he nor his relatives have any connection to offshore businesses. The news will only raise the pressure on Matolcsy due to an ongoing scandal over MNB spending. 

Before becoming the governor of MNB in 2013, Matolcsy was member of the Hungarian parliament (2006-2013) and Minister for National Economy in the Orban-government from 2006. In the meantime, his cousin, Tamas Szemerey was owner and president of Sunjoy Development, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands according to records released under the Panama Papers leak, Direkt36 reports.

Szemerey owned the company between 2009 May and 2010 June, but claims Matolcsy was unaware of that. "I do not tend to talk about my business activities with my cousin,” Szemerey told the media outlet.

Recent records released by the MNB reveal, however, that Matolcsy had direct influence on his cousin’s business activities. Contracts the MNB was forced to publish in late April show Matolcsy made direct investment decisions at Pallas Athenene Domus Animae (PADA) Foundation, one of the central bank's six charitable foundations. PADA’s contracts show that most of its funds were invested at NHB Bank, which is owned by Szemerey. 

MNB’s foundations also granted HUF501.4mn (€1.6mn) to New Wave, a media company reportedly owned by Szemerey, and the publisher of the vs.hu news website. 

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