“You would have to be with the client from midnight until one (…) And that man will fuck you, instead of me kissing you all over, damn it” – this is how Répás called a girl with a job offer in the spring of 2011. During other phone conversations with women he went into details explaining how many minutes of blowjob a client wants to get and whether the client wishes to have anal sex. He even told one of the men that, according to him, which “chick has the best pussy”.
In the middle of August, however, he carefully interrupted a man who wanted to go through the schedule of the night – a dinner and then going back to his place. “There’s no need to tell everything from the beginning to the end, everybody knows what it is all about” – said Répás. When a girl asked whether Répás had some “escort jobs” to give her, he reproached her: “Are you insane? Don’t tell such things over the phone!”
There was a reason for Répás’ wariness. The National Bureau of Investigation (NNI) started to tap his phone in April 2011, as they suspected that Répás was one of the organizers of a prostitution network. The 2500-page-long files of the investigation, obtained by Direkt36, reveal that Répás, who is now accused in court of procuring prostitution, had indirect connections with the authorities, and he was receiving information about the investigation conducted against him. For example, one of his friends who said to have a connection at the NNI regularly delivered information for Répás about the procedure. It was this friend who, on 8 August 2011, “felt that it was his obligation” to inform Répás that “his name came up at the authority”. After this point, Répás started to be more careful over the phone.
The investigation files do not show any sign of the police trying to identify the person who leaked information from the NNI about the investigation. The police now say that they are not authorized any more to comment on the case as it is already in court. The Metropolitan Court, which is in charge of the case, has not responded to our questions. Neither did Lajos Répás who wrote in an e-mail that as the interviews he had given in the past three years “did not produce any positive changes in his case” he does not wish to give any more comment.
A relative from the secret service
The reports of the investigation files also reveal that, through one of his relatives, Répás had an indirect connection to the Constitution Protection Agency, the Hungarian civilian secret service. During the investigation, NNI obtained Répás’ phone traffic data from his telephone provider. This reveals that in five and a half months Répás had 305 phone conversations with someone whose phone subscription, according to the police report, was paid by the secret service. The Interior Ministry, which supervises the Constitution Protection Agency, said that the phone number was part of their fleet package, and it was not directly subscribed by the Agency, but by one of its employees, who gave the phone to his or her close relative.
The Ministry did not reveal either the name of the secret service staff member who purchased the phone service, nor the name of the close relative who used the service. A close relative of Répás, however, confirmed to Direkt36 that she was the one who used the phone at the time of the investigation. The relative’s name is not included in the investigation document and no information suggests that the link to the secret service had anything to do with the investigation. The files do not contain any documents related to the calls between Répás and the user of the phone linked to the secret service.
From Dubai to the Grand Boulevard of Budapest
Répás had been known to the Hungarian and international authorities. He was sentenced to more than 1.5 years of imprisonment because of embezzlement in 2003, and to one year of imprisonment for fraud in 2005. He didn’t have to go to jail in neither case as both of his sentences were suspended, the first one for 4 years, and the second one for 2 years of probation. In connection with prostitution, his name first came up in 2008: the French authorities interrogated him in Paris, suspecting that he procured women for prostitution for two foreign citizens and a third woman for Hungarian businessmen.
Soon afterwards, Répás caught the attention of the Hungarian authorities as well for similar reasons. In 2009, NNI launched a secret investigation under the code name “Replay” for the detection of a Hungarian luxury prostitution network. The investigation that later became known as the Dubai-case involved a man and two women who are now accused in court of procuring prostitution. They are charged with sending Hungarian models and hostesses for sex work to foreign countries, for example to Dubai, Morocco, Switzerland and France. According to the prosecutors they asked for the 40 percent of the prostitutes’ payment, which was around 1000 euros per occasion. The organizers talked about these trips in a coded language, referring to sex work as a request, an offer or a photo shooting. Initially, the police suspected that Répás was also involved in the organization of the network, and they started to tap his phone calls in 2011.
According to the investigation files a woman called Vivien, who lived in Dubai, organized the international procurements. It included Hungarian prostitutes being ordered by princes from Dubai. According to the records, Vivien was suspected to have a business connection with the confidant of the Dubai princes, a person called Murad (or Muki in his nickname), while the two other defendants of the case are accused of organizing the network from Hungary.
Lajos Répás knew Vivien, because, as he told in one of the tapped calls, the woman started her model career at his company. Another man mentioned jokingly in the calls that everybody started her career at the beauty contest organizer. Répás just laughed at this remark and added that he is “the trunk of the tree, where the leaves and flowers grow from”.
The one who delivered information from the police
Vivien’s arrest in 2011 had not even been reported by the media when Répás learned about it through his own sources. Upon hearing the news, he called several people to ask them whether the information he received was true, and he also tried to find out if there were any other people that might have got involved in the case. The records of his tapped phone calls show that Répás tried to get some information from the National Bureau of Investigation as well. One of his friends, Csaba Szamosvölgyi, claimed that he knew someone from the bureau. According to the records, Szamosvölgyi himself told this during one of their tapped conversations, and also added that his information from the NNI were coming straight from the “official owner of the case”.
“All this is complete bullshit. I have no clue how my name and phone number could have got into the records of the tapped phone calls” – told Csaba Szamosvölgyi to Direkt36. He denied having any connections to NNI. He said he did not know the people involved in the Dubai-case and he did not give any kind of information to Répás. He said that he might have called Répás in 2011, but just to tell him that he was not happy about Répás’ name coming up in connection with prostitution. “Not a single person asked me anything about Répás’ case, I have never been summoned as a witness. If this whole leak of information had any real base of truth, I guess at least I would have been contacted somehow” – added Szamosvölgyi.
Although the police interrogated 146 witnesses, Csaba Szamosvölgyi was not among them. The investigation files do not show any sign of the police trying to identify Szamosvölgyi’s contact person who allegedly leaked information from the National Bureau of Investigation.
Szamosvölgyi’s name appears in a book written by Péter Tasnádi, a person who has been charged with and convicted for several crimes. According to the book, entitled Maffia életre-halálra (Mafia for life or death), Szamosvölgyi and Tasnádi got to know each other in 1993, when Szamosvölgyi was in pre-trial detention because of suspicion of exercising vigilante justice. Szamosvölgyi and Tasnádi became friends of a lifetime, the book said.
Szamosvölgyi, now working as an entrepreneur, used to frequent Répás’ beauty pageants, according to one of the contestants. He, according to the contestant, also offered a Koenigsegg luxury car – which could be worth as much as two million dollars – for the photo shootings of some of the women who participated in these events. Szamosvölgyi said that he does not own the car, it belongs to a Slovakian company (Szamosvölgyi is the owner of two Slovakian businesses, but he did not reveal if the car is owned by any of those companies).
He said that he had a group of friends, whose members indeed took their cars to the photo shootings of Répás’ models. “We are 5-6 people in this group of friends, and some of us have sports cars, that we sometimes offered for these purposes. I remember that we gave a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, for example” – said Szamosvölgyi, who claims that he got to know this group of friends through a real estate company, but he refused to identify the other members of this group.
These friends financially supported the organization of Miss Hungary since 2006, according to Szamosölgyi. He said he could not recall how much money they gave to Répás, but he estimated that it was around a few hundred thousand forints (a few hundred euros) per year. According to him, when Répás’ name came up in connection with prostitution, they decided to cancel their support and cut all their connections with him.
The investigation files show, however, that Szamosvölgyi maintained contact with Répás even while the NNI was carrying out the investigation against him with the suspicion of procuring prostitution. The records of the tapped phone calls reveal that it was Szamosvölgyi himself who informed Répás about the investigation: first he talked with Répás in February 2011 about the details he learnt about the Dubai-case. Since then, he regularly informed Répás about “the people who, in one way or another, come into sight” during the investigation. In the middle of April they met in person and talked about a certain list of 12 names that they would reveal later (the investigation files do not reveal what kind of list this was).
“There’s nothing, everything is silent”
Szamosvölgyi also warned Répás if somebody from his circles was brought within the scope of the NNI’s investigation. In the beginning of August, one of the female acquaintances of Répás named Heni wanted to take girls to Germany for working in some bars. Szamosvölgyi warned Répás that the NNI knew about the planned trip, and “they would be waiting for her out there”.
Szamosvölgyi suggested that in case the “German trip is not clear”, it should be cancelled. Répás tried to convince Heni to cancel the trip, calling her over the phone and then meeting in person as well. However, the woman stated that no sex-work would be involved during the trip. Répás even made Szamosvölgyi talk to the woman over the phone, and Szamosvölgyi explained what kind of information he had obtained from the NNI. He reminded Heni that the defendants of the Dubai-case had also been trying to claim that they only procured women for hostess jobs, but nevertheless they got arrested.
Szamosvölgyi also said in one of the calls that Heni might not be watched only by the Hungarian authorities but some foreign services too. He was convinced that all this is already an “Interpol case”. Szamosvölgyi added that for him “it is obvious to protect Répás and his circle” and “he considers it his plain duty to inform his good friend, Répás, and those people who are close to him in case their names come up during the investigation”. The records of the tapped phone calls do not show whether Heni, in spite of all warnings, finally travelled to Germany or not.
Although Szamosvölgyi regularly delivered information to Répás, these were not always accurate. He learnt about the fact that Répás’ calls might be tapped with a significant delay. In fact it was Szamosvölgyi who tried to calm Répás while the NNI had already started carrying out an investigation against him for quite a long time.
The police decided to start tapping Répás’ phone calls on 1 April 2011, but three months later Szamosvölgyi was still giving comforting information to Répás. At the end of July when the suspect of the Dubai-case, Vivien was arrested, Szamosvölgyi said that there was “a big secrecy surrounding the case”, but at least he could find out that Répás name “hasn’t come up anywhere, in any form”. This is why Szamosvölgyi suggested no to care too much about the case, and he even expressed his gratitude because of “Miss Hungary being clean”.
The first day when Szamosvölgyi called Répás with some uncomfortable news was the 8th of August. He told Répás that on that day, for the first time, Répás’ name came up in the investigation, although “in a totally different perspective”. He also said that “they might put the finger on Répás really quickly, as it happened with Vivien, who also thought that she was unassailable, and now she is sitting in jail”. Moreover, somebody – whom Szamosvölgyi just called a rat and a cocksucker – accused Répás of being the main organizer of the whole Dubai prostitution network. According to the records of the tapped phone calls, Répás was shaking with laughter when he heard this, and when he calmed down he said that “this is an easy case”. After this conversation, Szamosvölgyi did not call Répás for one month. Next time they only spoke in September, when Szamosvölgyi was calling Répás with good news: “there’s nothing happening, everything is silent”.
“Répa, did you go crazy?”
Répás did not know yet that he had no reason for being calm. By the end of September, the police stopped tapping his phone calls. Although the investigation was originally launched because of the suspicion that Répás was involved in the Dubai case, the police found that his activities were not connected to that international network. However, during the half-year-long secret phone tapping the police concluded that independently from the Dubai network, Répás himself procured women for sex work (29 women just between April and July of 2011). This is why upon finishing the phone tapping, the NNI separated the investigations of the two criminal cases, and in February 2012 they arrested Répás.
Répás spent half a year in pre-trial detention, then 3 months in house arrest, and finally he was put under home detention in December 2012. The Prosecutor’s Office brought charges against him last August: he was accused of pimping, procuring woman for prostitution in 67 counts and procuring underage prostitutes in 5 counts. His first trial was held in last October, but due to the high number of summoned witnesses it might last for several years.
The testimonies of the witnesses reveal that Lajos Répás started working again shortly after he came out from pre-trial detention. One girl testified that Répás called her on the phone when he was put under house arrest. He told her that now he “can go anywhere, and keeps working as before”, and he has a job offer for the girl. “Répa, did you go crazy?” – asked the girl. Répás answered that he was only doing some favours with this work.