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444.hu: A suspected international criminal and the Syrian dictator’s money man also bought Hungarian residency bonds

Online daily 444.hu and investigative journalism NGO Direkt36 have just reported that Salmo Bazkka, an alleged international money launderer suspected of laundering money for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and Atiya Khoury, a suspected international criminal, also took part in Hungary's highly controversial residency bond program.

We are not going to let Hungary become a country of immigrants!"
"The only thing that matters is the security of the Hungarians"
These have been the governing Fidesz party's key messages in its campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections on April 8.

The two outlets report that each were delivered an envelope more than two months ago from an unknown sender. The envelope contained the names of various foreign citizens, who, according to the sender, had received residency permits through Hungary's settlement bond program.
Hungary's controversial settlement bond program is the brainchild of Hungary's propaganda minister, Antal Rogán, while chairing the parliamentary economics committee. Adopted by parliament in 2012, settlement bonds confer on their holders the right to reside and move throughout the Schengen territory.
The sale of some 20,000 residency bonds has enabled a handful of mostly off-shore brokers handpicked by Rogán's committee to amass a fortune, large at the expense of Hungarian taxpayers.
The rationale behind selling the bonds was that the state would have access to cheaper capital. However, the way in which the residency bond program was structured actually turned out to be more expensive because the interest on the bonds paid to the brokers were higher than the interest paid by Hungary's Debt Management Center on the sale of treasury bills.
In addition to pocketing the interest, brokers charged buyers so-called processing fees in the tens of thousands of euros. In this way hundreds of millions of euros were effectively diverted from the Hungarian treasury to primarily offshore companies.
Approximately 20 thousand people gained residency in Hungary through the controversial program, including, according to Direct36, Salmo Bazkka, suspected by Italian authorities of being a member of an international money laundering network, and Atiya Khoury, a businessman whose name appears on a sanction list by the United States' Treasury Department for assisting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime.
While Direkt36 and 444 could not confirm when the two men purchased the residency bonds, a relative of Bazkka reportedly confirmed he had bought residency bonds. Another source familiar with the administrative process also confirmed that both men had received residency permits through the program.
Now that this story has broken, it makes sense that Fidesz–KDNP has spent the past few months boycotting the national security committee in parliament, where opposition politicians could press state security officials about this story.
Source: 444.hu;budapestbeacon.com

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2018 14:06

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