The plot thickens: Karácsony’s campaign funding is reported for potential fraud

Budapest mayor Karácsony’s political movement is reported for the possibly fraudulent disclosure of their funding’s sources by OTP bank

The Budapest mayor and Gábor Perjés, a member of Karácsony’s party, have been under scrutiny for quite a while, as their “miraculous” donation boxes netted them more than half a billion forints for Karácsony’s failed election campaign last spring.

It has already been established that HUF 526 million was acquired by the movement with the sole contributor to the account identified as Karácsony's party colleague Gábor Perjés.

As doubts were raised regarding the origin of these campaign funds and their legality, the Hungarian authorities opened multiple inquiries, some of which are still ongoing.

The National Tax and Customs Administration also has an ongoing case against the 99 Movement Association, so it is not much of a surprise that OTP bank also turned to the authorities due to the suspicion that the content of the documentation sent to OTP by Karácsony’s movement for the purpose of source verification is not accurate. OTP claims that the bank “was deceived, as the actual, real source of the amounts paid was not indicated, the bank was not informed of this, and thus the bank could not be credibly convinced of the real source of the amounts paid.”

OTP's allegations appear well-founded, as while Perjés asserts that the donations primarily came from Hungarian expatriates, with more than 80 percent of the funds arriving in foreign currencies like euros and pounds sterling, the bank records reveal that the thousands of banknotes were allegedly packed into a small collection box, some with consecutive numbers and in pristine condition, raising suspicions about their origin. In addition, the credit institution's internal audit also found that the majority of the documentation sent “showed only EUR 50 and EUR 100 banknotes, in addition to some forint banknotes, while two entries showed the exact same number of EUR 100 banknotes.”

Simultaneously, payments into the movement’s account were always in the same amount as transfers made immediately afterward to one of the association's main partners — the DatAdat group of former Socialist PM Gordon Bajnai. For example, on February 8, 2022, Perjés deposited an amount of HUF 32.1 million and then transferred HUF 31.8 million on February 9 to DatAdat.

Coincidence? Highly unlikely.

It seems that Karácsony and his crew thought that if they claimed during an election campaign that they “found” half a billion forints worth of foreign currency in a box, no one would bat an eye.

Thankfully, the Hungarian authorities are doing their job.