Update (31.05.2016): The accusations against a Hungarian public media company, Új Média and Teletext Ltd were dropped by the police in the absence of crime, the department against high-tech crimes reported Tuesday. The Új Média and Teletext Ltd acquired 110, almost identical domains and websites for 386 thousand euros two years ago. Similar domains and websites could have been bought for a fraction of this amount, Direkt36 revealed in article. The domains and websites were sold by the family company of a former politician and close ally of Fidesz, the current ruling party.
After our article was published, Viktor Szigetvári and Előd Novák, two politicians of the opposition (Együtt and Jobbik, respectively) filed official complaints to the police. The department against high.tech crimes informed Direkt36 a few weaks ago that the proceeded against Új Média and Teletext Ltd. We have mistakenly written that the police is already investigating in the matter, however, they were only collecting supplements for the original complaints. We apologise for the inaccuracy.
Hungarian police launched a criminal investigation into a controversial state contract awarded to a company linked to a former key politician of the governing party. The police confirmed this in a letter sent to Direkt36 on Tuesday.
The investigation is based on a story by Direkt36. We reported in March that a company belonging to the state media conglomerate bought 110 nearly identical websites for 120 million forint (386 thousand euro) even though they could have found a similar solution for much less or even for free. The seller was a company linked to Attila Várhegyi, a consultant of the public media and a former politician of Fidesz, the governing party.
After our article was published, Viktor Szigetvári, a politician of the opposition filed an official complaint with the police.
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The domains bought by Új Média és Teletext Ltd, a company belonging to the state media, are very similar: most of them are a combination of a Hungarian town’s name and the word “news”. Not only the names of websites are very similar, but they also look the same and display the same content: news copied from the Hungarian News Agency or the public media’s main news site, Hirado.hu. The only apparent difference is the name in the banner on the top of the sites.
The domains and websites were sold by Magyar Híradó Ltd., a company closely connected to Attila Várhegyi, an important figure in the circles of Fidesz. Várhegyi and other companies connected to him received several other contracts from the public media besides the domain deal.
Várhegyi started his fast and successful career right before the regime change, in 1989. By the 2000s his career reached as high as state secretary, but before that he was also party director, chairman of the national board, and mayor of Szolnok. His political career suffered a blow when he was sentenced to suspended prison in an embezzlement case.