Company Produced 100-fold Growth After Winning Public Tenders. Its Owner Is Linked to Viktor Orbán’s Brother Through Wrestling

IMG Solution, a company selling IT and office products, produced spectacular growth in just a few years. In 2012, its revenues were only 46 million forints (150 thousand euros), but in 2015, it made 4.7 billion forints (15.2 million euros), meaning that it grew by 100 times. The company, which does not even have a functioning website, managed to accomplish this after a series of victories in lucrative state tenders.

The extraordinary financial success was not the only thing that caught the attention of other players in the market. For years, it has been circulating among these companies that IMG Solution is linked to Győző Orbán Jr., one of the two brothers of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Direkt36 was told by seven sources – who all asked for anonymity to share sensitive information – working at different companies that they had heard about this alleged connection. Some sources said that they heard about it from competitors, but others got the information from people close to IMG Solution or from their partners working at state agencies that do business with IMG Solution.

While these market sources treat the alleged connection between IMG Solution and Orbán’s brother as a fact, none of them have documents or other hard evidence showing that Győző Orbán Jr. is involved in the company’s activities. There is, however, proof that the firm’s manager and co-owner, Gábor Szentgyörgyi, has a long personal relationship with the prime minister’s brother.

This relationship is linked to wrestling.

Győző Orbán Jr. had been a wrestler in his teenage years and returned to the sport in his 30s, even winning the European Championship in his age group. He has also been a prominent leader of the Hungarian wrestling scene: records show that he is the honorary president of a sport club, of which Gábor Szentgyörgyi is also a member. Orbán and Szentgyörgyi even went on a trip organized by the club, news reports and photos show.

Neither Győző Orbán Jr. nor Gábor Szentgyörgyi answered Direkt36’s questions.

An ambitious man

IMG Solution was founded in 2009 by Gábor Szentgyörgyi and his two partners. Sources familiar with the company said that all three of them had been working for Bravogroup, a major player in the IT market when they set up their own company.

From the very beginning, Szentgyörgyi has been the sole director of the company. Even at Bravogroup, he stood out with his ambitious approach. “He is hardworking and pushy, but if he promised something he always kept it,” one of his former colleagues at Bravogroup described him.

In the first years of IMG Solution, Szentgyörgyi kept his job at Bravogroup as well, but he quit when his own company started to grow. The growth began after IMG Solution had bidden successfully for several big state tenders.

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In general, it is decided in several rounds which companies can provide IT and office technology products to government agencies and other state institutions. First, the Procurement and Supply Directorate selects companies, often dozens of them, through a procurement. The directorate signs a framework contract with the selected companies. Then the individual state agencies can order products, like laptops or photocopy machines, exclusively from these companies. For example, if the National Tax Authority wants to buy new computers, it has to solicit offers from the companies in the framework contract and will choose one of them.

IMG Solution got its first framework contract in September 2013. It was a 44-billion-forint (142.8 million euros) framework contract for “computer systems and related services.” The company has become a participant of 8 similar framework contracts since then. Four of these were finalized last year, including an 80-billion-forint (260 million euros) contract for providing IT devices. The Procurement and Supply Directorate did not respond to questions about the amount of revenue IMG Solution actually received through these framework contracts and the company did not answer these questions either.

IMG received state contracts outside the frameworks as well, records show. Their total value is more than 600 million forints (1.95 million euros) and they include contracts with hospitals, the Hungarian National Bank, and the Hungarian National Railway.

Győző Orbán Jr. / Source: KDNP Flickr

With contracts under its belt, IMG Solution has skyrocketed. While in the first years of its operation the company made only a few tens of millions of forints, in 2013 its revenue was 166 million forints (539 thousand euros), which jumped to 4.7 billion (15.2 million euros) in 2015. The following year the revenue went down (it was 3.2 billion forints or 10.3 million euros) but the overall growth stood out in the market.

Direkt36 has analysed the financial data of more than 200 companies, which were part of framework contracts alongside IMG Solution. Of these firms, only two produced bigger growth in the same period. One of them is I-Cell Zrt., whose rise can be explained by the fact that in 2013 they introduced a now widely used toll system for trucks. The other company with outstanding growth is Pegasus Informatikai Kft., which is also owned by Gábor Szentgyörgyi (he bought the company in March 2017.) This firm, however, grew much more modestly: its revenue in 2012 was 191 thousand forints (620 euros), and it went up to 15 million forints (48.7 thousand euros) by 2016.

News from the state sector

Simultaneously with IMG Solution’s rise, speculations began to circulate about its alleged links to Győző Orbán Jr. Several sources told Direkt36 that they had heard about this from their partners in the state sector. The sources, who are with companies that had been working for state agencies for years, said that around 2013 their public-sector partners told them that a new player, IMG Solution, appeared on the market and, to their knowledge, it is connected to the prime minister’s brother.

“I’ve heard this from at least ten state sources,” said an office technology company’s former senior employee. A major IT company’s executive told Direkt36 that he got the information from high-level people at a state agency for which they had been working for years. A third executive gave a similar account on how he heard about IMG Solution’s connection.

The wrestling connection

Although the market sources were informed through private talks that are difficult to verify, there is more concrete proof for the connection between Gábor Szentgyörgyi and Győző Orbán Jr. At his previous workplace, Bravogroup, Szentgyörgyi told his colleagues that Orbán is among his acquaintances. “He said that he knows him well,” recalled a company source, who said that Szentgyörgyi also mentioned that they got to know each other through wrestling.

What clearly connects the two people is the NIKÉ Sports Association. Győző Orbán Jr. is the honorary president of the organization, which was founded in 2009 and has a wrestling section along with football and handball. According to interviews with Orbán, he went to wrestling trainings as a teenager but then chose to focus on his studies, and returned to the sport only as an adult. “I was close to my 35th birthday when I joined the seniors,” he told Karfiolfül, a magazine dedicated to wrestling, in 2015. He said in the interview that first he won a national championship then later he received a gold medal at a European tournament as well.

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Győző Orbán Jr. appeared at several events organized by NIKÉ. He represented the association at a 2016 state event, where even deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén gave aspeech.

Gábor Szentgyörgyi is a member of NIKÉ and participated in several of its assemblies, records found by Direkt36 in the Court of Kaposvár, where the association is registered, show.

Szentgyörgyi did not respond to questions about his involvement in the association. However, a person who knows Szentgyörgyi recognized him in a photo, which appeared in a story about a foreign trip of NIKÉ’s delegation. During the 2011 trip, the representatives of NIKÉ visited Kárpátalja, a part of Ukraine with a large number of ethnic Hungarians, to build partnerships. According to local news reports, there was a third person in the delegation in addition to Szentgyörgyi and Vilmos Balogh, the head of NIKÉ. It was Győző Orbán Jr.

We asked Orbán and Szentgyörgyi whether they had talked about IMG Solution during this trip or any other time, but neither of them answered this and our other questions.

András Szabó and Blanka Zöldi contributed to the reporting.

For the Hungarian company data we used the services of Opten.

  • András Pethő

    András is a co-founder, editor and executive director of Direkt36. Previously, he was a senior editor for leading Hungarian news site Origo before it had been transformed into the government’s propaganda outlet. He also worked for the BBC World Service in London and was a reporter at the investigative unit of The Washington Post. He has contributed to several international reporting projects, including The Panama Papers. He twice won the Soma Prize, the prestigious annual award dedicated to investigative journalism in Hungary. He was a World Press Institute fellow in 2008, a Humphrey fellow at the University of Maryland in 2012/13, and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 2019/20. András has taught journalism courses at Hungarian universities.