March 17th, 2017

Appeals court acquits defendants in Moscow property case

The Budapest Court of Appeals has acquitted Hungary’s former ambassador to Russia and six other defendants of charges of misappropriation, accessory to criminal activity and forgery in a real estate case. The ruling is legally binding. According to the indictment, Árpád Székely, ambassador at the time, had signed contracts of the sale of a property in 2008 without his superiors knowing. Also charged on grounds of aiding and abetting were Márta Fekszi Horváth, former foreign state secretary, and Miklós Tátrai, former head of the National Asset Manager (MNV), among other senior executives.

The prosecutor’s office filed charges against Székely and the six other officials in 2011, saying that procedural violations had been committed in the course of selling Hungary’s trade representation building in Moscow, which had started back in 2005 under the Socialist government. The Hungarian state had sold the property for 23.7 million dollars but the buyer soon resold it for 100 million dollars. The prosecution said the Hungarian state suffered billions of forints in losses from the deal. The defendants had all pleaded not guilty to the charges. The appeals court’s decision upheld the ruling brought by a Budapest court in 2015.

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