While we are holding our collective breaths waiting for Trump’s tax returns – let me share a few delightful factoids we have learnt from the annual wealth declarations of Hungarian politicians.
Appreciators of comedy rejoice because the wealth declaration season of Hungarian politicians offers regular entertainment. Our masters of absurd humour never fail to deliver on their traditional duty to stupefy and puzzle us with their fluctuating flat sizes and oversized purchases they could never afford on a thousand years worth of salary plus a lottery jackpot. Their wealth tends to defy the laws of physics as well as the laws of finance and mathematics.
Luckily (for them) this measure of checks on power is toothless – its legal or even reputational consequences have been long removed. When an opposition politician requested the lifting of Antal Rogán’s immunity over a blatant lie in his wealth declaration in 2016 the parliamentary committee dismissed his request by saying that these declarations “serve the purpose of transparency – not that of accountability”.
And besides, how do we know it is not just pissed off journalists misreading the lines in thousands of pages of unsearchable and low quality .pdf files? They had to crowdsource help of volunteers to create a searchable database – they must be out for petty vengeance.
I give you the 5 best jokes found in this year’s wealth declarations:
- Orbán has many times more debt than he has money on his only known bank account (little more than 2000 euros) – which he shares with his wife. His family is so impoverished after a lifetime of career politics of the breadwinner and father of five – it is a godsend that all the members of his extended family (son-in-law, gas repairman, father, etc.) started to buy land, yachts and castles all over the country. Orbán might need their financial help one day if he fails to repay the remaining 20 thousand euros of his mortgage before he retires. Time to crowdfund the saviour of the nation.
- The chief prosecutor bought (half of) a Balaton villa last year. Curiously though its price had never been in his possession – and he doesn’t appear to have paid for it either. Who said social mobility is dead?
- The wife of all-time biggest gagman and central bank governor Matolcsy no longer lives in the same household with him. Too bad because they had a prenup stating that any company she buys from him “stays de facto his“. Which, of course, is legal nonsense… The separation, however, is no surprise considering his mistress’ coming out in an interview last year on how they belong together. (The biggest joke is still how the mistress and her sister and mother became the best paid employees of the Bank.)
- And the head of the tax authority started to earn salaries from at least two tax advisory companies last year. On top of his salary as an MP, a state secretary at the ministry of economy, and head of the tax authority. And he still has his job – nothing to see here.
When the opposition suggested to put accountability back into politics by attaching legal consequences to lying on these declarations, they were naturally dismissed.
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