While Hungary’s PM Attacks Brussels, His Brother’s Company Gets Money From The EU

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán might be one of Brussels’ toughest foes but at the same time another of his closest relatives has become a beneficiary of the European Union’s subsidies system.

At the end of August, a company co-owned by Győző Orbán Jr., one of the two brothers of the prime minister, won an EU grant worth 291 million forints (940 thousand euros). Gamma Analcont Kft., a technology firm, received the money to carry out a renewable energy project in consortium with another company.

This was the second grant won by Gamma Analcont this year. In January, the firm was awarded 57 million (184 thousand euros) to expand its production capacities.

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Győző Orbán Jr. has been holding 26 percent of the company since January 2015, records show. Gamma Analcont had won EU grants even before he joined the firm. In 2009 and 2013, the firm got subsidies worth of 62 million forints (200 thousand euros).

Orbán’s Moscow

The funding for the subsidies comes from the European Union’s budget but the grant system is operated by the Hungarian government. Since an institutional reshuffle in 2013, the system has been under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Although many other companies have received grants similar to Gamma Analcont’s (or even much bigger ones), the case of Orbán Jr.’s company is made special by the fact that EU-bashing has been a central element of Viktor Orbán’s government policies since he came into power in 2010. He compared Brussels to the Moscow of communism’s darkest period and his government’s current anti-immigrant campaign is partly an attack against the EU.

The Prime Minister’s Press Office refused to answer Direkt36’s questions, arguing that they have nothing to do with this matter. Győző Orbán Jr. did not respond to our inquiries either.

Győző Orbán Jr. has been working in the mining businesses that his father launched back in the 90s. He has never held political office and his public appearances were mostly limited to his sports activities (he is a wrestler and won tournaments).

Győző Orbán Jr. is not the only member of the prime minister’s inner circle whose businesses have received substantial EU funds. As Direkt36 showed in a 2015 story, István Tiborcz, the prime minister’s son-in-law, Lőrinc Mészáros, a friend of the prime minister, and Lajos Simicska, Orbán’s long-time ally, have also been beneficiaries of the EU. After Fidesz’s election victory in 2010, their companies have won many public contracts financed mostly by the EU.

Research and Development

The grant that Gamma Analcont won in August is part of a programme designed to boost the research and development activities of private companies. More than 67 billion forints (216 million euros) were distributed among nearly 250 firms. Győző Orbán Jr.’s company received a grant that was a little more than the average, with many companies getting much larger subsidies, even as much as one billion forints (3.2 million euros).

Gamma Analcont has received the grant to carry out a renewable energy project in consortium with another firm, Borsodtech. They promised to design and build an ”off-grid mobile biomass heating system,” grant records show. The EU will cover 62 percent of the project’s expenses and the companies have to provide the rest of the funding.

Gamma Analcont did not respond to our questions on the project and what role Győző Orbán Jr. plays in the company. Gábor Nagy, the manager of Borsodtech, the consortium partner, told Direkt36 that he does not want to talk about the project’s details because the agreements between the two companies have not been finalized yet. In response to a question, he said that he did not know that the prime minister’s brother is a co-owner of Gamma Analcont.

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  • 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.