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Hungary: Orbán's government denies insider trading

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By Keith Walker  with Attila Magyar, Manuela Scarpellini, Reuters
Hungary: Orbán's government denies insider trading

Hungary’s government denied insider trading after opposition members questioned a foreign ministry decision to withdraw state funds from a brokerage that filed for bankruptcy a few days later.

The National Bank of Hungary suspended the licence of brokerage Quaestor on March 10, saying it may have sold more bonds than permitted under its issuance programme.

The opposition Socialists have called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to quit. Party leader Jozsef Tarsoly told euronews: “The government has withdrawn the money of its allies and ministries and let the people down […] Mr Orban has lost his entitlement to be the prime minister of Hungary, so he should resign.”

The Socalists urged the foreign ministry to clarify whether it had any insider information about Quaestor’s finances.

“The foreign ministry and its institutions had no unlawful information whatsoever,” it said on the government’s website.

Quaestor was the third Hungarian brokerage to run into financial trouble within weeks.

Orban said that after the collapse of Buda-Cash last month he ordered ministries to withdraw all public funds from brokerages.

Asked whether he thought it was strange that the foreign ministry got its money just in time, Orban said: “Not only do I not think it is strange, I gave the order.

“At the next government meeting I ordered every ministry to check whether it has any financial ties with any brokerages and whether it parks any public money with them, and if so, then withdraw it at once because zero forints (zero euros) should be held with brokerages at a time when a domino effect looms,” he added.

Meanwhile ordinary Questor customers are demanding their money.

“So far we are not clear on exactly who is responsible for this,” István Kálmán-Pikó, representative of the group of victims told euronews. “We only know that the list of victims is growing longer every day. With the help of legal experts we are monitoring developments to see who to sue.”

euronews correspondent Attila Magyar reported: “While the Quaestor scandal reaches the higher political levels, the victims still don’t have any information about their investments. They don’t know if they’ll ever see their money again.”