Áron Orbán promotes both diet-food and weapons. Meanwhile, pro-government businessmen are popping up around him

The prime minister’s 14 years younger brother, Áron Orbán has not taken a public role yet, but has been posting a series of public posts on social media for years. They usually show him indulging in hobbies such as gardening, cooking stew, tinkering or flying planes, and he also occasionally shares melodious Russian music. Some of his posts also hint at his business activities.

In a video from last autumn, for example, you can see him in a patterned shirt making a butter-cream scone sandwich with cheese and cold cuts, while a cheerful sramli-music plays. Two striking details of the video are that the sandwiches are made from Norbert Schobert’s Update brand of low-carb food, and that there is a gun on the kitchen counter while Orbán uses a military knife to spread the cream cheese on the scones.

After our article was published, Áron Orbán’s Facebook page became inaccessible, so this video is no longer available.

In this way, the prime minister’s brother is perfectly combining the two areas in which he is currently active: his special interest in weapons and his involvement in Norbert Schobert’s business.

Orbán became a board member of Norbi Update Lowcarb Zrt. this spring, a company targeting the market for low-carbohydrate, weight-loss foods. This is not his only connection to the company: his Croatian company, Circles of Angels and Devils d.o.o. runs the Update Nivo store in Csáktornya, Croatia. Although there is no evidence that Norbi Update has any state contracts, the company had other links to government circles even before Áron Orbán joined. Miklós Ómolnár, one of the leaders of the pro-government media company Mediaworks, has been a board member of the company for nearly 8 years. A few months ago, Schobert was interviewed by Ripost, which is edited by Ómolnár, about his approval of the government’s reaction to the war in Ukraine.

Áron Orbán also regularly advertises a gun shop in Dunakeszi called Global Arms Hungary on his Facebook page. The prime minister’s brother does not appear to be either an owner or an official of the company behind the shop, Multi Shoot Zrt., but obviously there is a connection between the company and him. He has referred to it as his own in social media posts, he also built one of the company’s shooting ranges partly himself, and several branches of the business are located on his land.

This company already has a number of state ties. Last year, it won 9 million HUF in EU funding for business development through a tender, and it has a stake in a security company that has won several high-value public contracts in recent years. Its founder-owner, gynaecologist Nándor Tűzkő, is also a member of the supervisory board of several state-owned fertility centres.

Áron Orbán previously had a business interest that was involved in large public projects. For a long time, he was the owner of a company with a turnover of billions of HUF, formerly known as Nehéz Kő Kft. and now as FuvarozNak Kft., which was also involved in projects related to state investments, as Direkt36 has revealed in its series of articles on the Orbán family.

Behind the guns

On the outskirts of Szécsénke, Nógrád county, just a few hundred metres from the highway, a previously bushy, wooded area has been converted into a car-accessible road and glade. Although there is no sign, this is where the shooting range complex of Multi Shoot Zrt. is being built, about which Áron Orbán regularly uploads photos and videos. These show how the terrain is evolving, partly by the own hands of Orbán. The land is owned by Áron Orbán and is also the registered site of Multi Shoot Zrt., the arms trading company founded in 2019.

With net sales of between 90 and 120 million HUF per year, the company is not a significant business. They are mainly involved in the arms trade, offering weapons, land and water combat vehicles and even bombs through their catalogues. They have also obtained NATO supplier status, a status held by hundreds of similar companies in Hungary. They also have accredited training and construction services and are currently building their own firing range complex. Although his name is not officially listed among the company’s officers, the Prime Minister’s brother is closely linked to the company.

Áron Orbán is not only the owner of the land in Szécsénke that will be home to the future shooting range, but Multi Shoot’s Fót branch is registered to his home address, and he previously owned another branch of the company in Zámoly. Multi Shoot’s logo of crowns, wings and arms is a protected trademark, registered by Áron Orbán, according to the database of the National Intellectual Property Office. Orbán has made it clear on social media that he considers Multi Shoot his own.  In one of his posts in April 2020, for example, he wrote: “We sell defence and police equipment. Our website: www.multishoot.hu www.globalarmshungary.com”

Despite all this, the founder and sole owner of Multi Shoot is not him, but gynaecologist Nándor Tűzkő. In 2020, he became a member of the supervisory board of four state-owned fertility centres, nationalised just a few months earlier: Forgács Intézet Egészségügyi és Szolgálató Kft., DUNAMENTI REK Reprodukciós Központ Kft. (former Kaáli Intézet), Várandós Egészségügyi Szolgáltató Kft. and Sterilitas Egészségügyi Ellátó Kft..

In 2019, the state started the acquisition of several fertility centres, and then a decree was issued that from July 2022, special procedures for human reproduction, i.e. fertility treatments, can only be carried out in state institutions. In response to a question from Direkt36, the former owner and head of the Kaáli Institute, Dr. Géza Kaáli Nagy, said that Tűzkő was already present in 2019 at the negotiations on the purchase of the institute.

“Nándor Tűzkő was there alongside Deputy State Secretary Károly Fábián. I asked that in what capacity Tűzkő was present and was told that he was an economic expert.”

In addition to fertility clinics, Tűzkő is also an expert member of the board of directors of MKB-Pannónia Egészségpénztár. This non-profit organisation providing cash services is a service of MKB Bank, a bank connected to Lőrinc Mészáros.

In addition to his involvement in state-owned companies and his committee membership, Tűzkő has other ties to pro-government business actors. Until 2020, he was a co-owner of a company called QPharma Nutrition, and was a business partner of Márk Szeverényi for nearly seven years. Szeverényi is the brother-in-law of former Mediaworks CEO and then pharmaceuticals minister László Szabó, and his name became known in connection with the state procurement related to the pandemic. He was the CEO of the company, which owned Fourcardinal Consulting Ltd. which was contracted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in April 2020 for nearly 50 billion HUF. The contracts were for a 17 billion HUF purchase of ventilators and a 32 billion HUF purchase of medical protective equipment.

Although Multi Shoot Zrt. has not yet received any government orders, in 2021 it won 9 million HUF in EU funding for business development under the Széchenyi 2020 programme. The company is also a 10 percent shareholder in Bank Biztonság Bizalom Zrt., which has won several public contracts for guarding and protection services worth hundreds of millions of HUF.

According to the project description, the 9 million grant will be used for training and machinery purchases at the company’s branch in Zámoly. Although no work is currently being carried out on this 9000-square-metre site on the outskirts of Zámoly, its location is unique: it is in the immediate vicinity of the Orbán-mine, within sight of it. The trucks rolling out of the mine pass by the former petrol station on the site. Áron Orbán bought the land at auction in 2017 and gifted it to his father, Győző Orbán Sr. Today, however, the land no longer belongs to the Orbán family: it was bought from them in February 2021 by a liquidator named Mihály Koller. Nevertheless, the land remains the premises of Multi Shoot Zrt.

Koller works as a liquidator for the state-owned National Reorganisation Non-profit Ltd. This organisation coordinates the bankruptcy and liquidation procedures of strategically important business organisations on behalf of the state. Koller has several ongoing cases, and he handled for example the liquidation of ETO Park Ltd, an important member of the Quaestor empire that went bankrupt in 2015, with assets of more than 8 billion HUF.

From Csáktornya to Tura

Áron Orbán has previously held positions in several family businesses, alongside his father or younger brother, Győző Orbán Sr. or Győző Orbán Jr. He was the founder and for many years the owner of a company established in 2004 as Ideális Áron Bt. By 2015, the company had already generated revenues of 1.6 billion HUF and, as Direkt36 revealed, was involved in projects related to public investments. Orbán also founded another company in 2016, NAKK International Raw Materials and Finished Products Trading Ltd, but just over a year later, in 2017, he withdrew from both companies and had no domestic business interests until 2022.

That changed after he met Norbert Schobert at a car event on the Hungaroring two years ago. According to a source, who asked not to be named and who knew the details of the relationship, it was an interest in cars that brought the two businessmen together, and they subsequently had several ideas for cooperation.

Orbán became a board member of Norbi Update Lowcarb Zrt. in May 2022, but according to Direkt36’s research, they became business partners through a Croatian company even earlier than that. Orbán is the founding owner of Circles of Angels and Devils d.o.o., a company registered in Croatia in 2019. This company is listed on the website of Update Nivo, the Croatian branch of Norbi Update, as the seller and rights holder of the website. According to a source speaking to Direkt36, the company owns the franchise rights of Update. Circles of Angels and Devils operates an Update store in Csáktornya, near the Hungarian border.

According to the source, the opening of the store in the small town of the Muraköz region was an unusual decision from a business point of view, as Norbi Update Lowcarb Zrt. usually tries to open its stores in larger cities and busy places. Based on marketing announcements and social media posts, trading in Croatia could start in early 2022. Following the opening, the Schobert couple posted a video from Csáktornya on Instagram. In this video, it was not mentioned who would operate the store, and there is also no mention of the opening of the Croatian store on Áron Orbán’s Facebook page.

According to local business records, Circles of Angels and Devils is a low-turnover business, which in 2021 had a turnover of 9 million HUF and was loss-making.

It is not only Orbán’s Croatian company, but also Multi Shoot, that is linked to Norbi Update Lowcarb, its products and its owners. On the website of Global Arms Hungary, a brand belonging to Multi Shoot, you can find and buy a wide range of Update products in addition to the guns and ammunition sold. The plan to launch “Norbi products” was announced by Global Arms on Facebook in the summer of 2021, when Áron Orbán also uploaded a recipe video promoting the Update products. In this almost 3-minute short film, mainly edited from still images, a “roasted venison backbone” is prepared using Update Lowcarb mayonnaise and mustard, and a Norbi Update Radler is also featured.

For one of the owners of Update, Réka Rubint, Global Arms Hungary provided the weapons and accessories for a thematic photo shoot in February 2021. At Rubint’s body reform camp in autumn 2021 Global Arms Hungary also had its own stand and a self-defence demonstration. In the music montage video of the event, the stand and the weapons are featured, and Norbert Schobert can also be seen holding a rifle with a scope. The camp was held at the Turai Castle, connected to the Prime Minister’s son-in-law István Tiborcz, where the Schobert family has visited several times since, according to their social media posts.

In addition, the eponymous owner of the Update company is trying to make gestures to the government. For example, he once publicly supported the government’s policy: in May this year, he gave an interview to the pro-government Ripost in which he criticised the European Union’s sanctions policy against Russia. He said that the embargo only served US interests and that Putin’s moustache should not be pulled.

  • Dániel Szőke

    Graduated from Eötvös Loránd University at 2013 as a librarian scientist. As a freelancer he worked with 444.hu news-site for several years, and in 2020 attended Transparency International’s mentor program for investigative journalists. In January 2021 he started to work as an intern, and since September 2021 he is a full-time journalist of Direkt36.