Orbán's daughter purchased property in Tokaj that state had pre-emptive rights to, but which were canceled in May
December 08. 2023. – 01:51 PM
The state did not exercise its pre-emption rights when the Hungarian Prime Minister's daughter Ráhel Orbán bought land in (one of Hungary's most famous wine-producing regions) Tokaj-Hegyalja earlier this year. In fact, the relevant clause was removed prior to the purchase, 24.hu reports. Orbán signed contracts for a total of 94 hectares (slightly more than 232 acres) of land in the wine region back in April.
Ráhel Orbán was registered as a farmer in 2021 and is therefore eligible to buy land. However, as she is a resident of Budapest, farmers in Tokaj and within a 20-kilometre radius of the municipalities concerned had the right of pre-emption. The fact that in the contract of sale, Orbán committed to transferring the purchase price within three banking days made it somewhat difficult for them to exercise this right. So even if a local farmer had wanted to buy any of the properties, they would have had to raise the needed funds within that same period.
24.hu has reached out to the Prime Minister's daughter several times since then to ask if anyone had exercised their right of pre-emption, but Orbán has not replied to them since June. The newspaper checked the status of the properties concerned and found that nobody had interfered with the PM's daughter purchasing land in Tokaj. The land registry has already registered the property rights.
However, there was another player that could have prevented the deal: the Hungarian state, given that several of the properties are World Heritage sites and the state had the right of first refusal. The introduction of this option was proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén in 2017. At the time, then Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister's Office, Nándor Csepreghy, said that "the preservation of World Heritage sites is of public interest, and this is why the government considers it important that the ownership structure of properties on World Heritage sites in Hungary should be such as to minimise the risk to fulfilling the public duty of preserving the World Heritage site. For this reason, wherever legally possible, the government believes that the role of the state as the principal authority acting as owner should be strengthened.”
More than 80,000 properties located in World Heritage areas were included in the list and, under the new government decree, the State was always supposed to be the first to buy the property if the owner were to sell it.
The state's right of pre-emption over properties in the World Heritage sites that Ráhel Orbán has now acquired was removed from their title deeds at the end of May.
The newspaper asked a real estate lawyer whether it was indeed possible to do this. The expert, who asked not to be named, said that the law does not indicate how this can be done, and that there is no legal way to do it. The expert said they had never heard of such a case before.
24.hu asked the Ministry of Culture and Innovation how it is possible to cancel this right, and how many properties the state has already done this for, but they have not received a reply since mid-November. The Ministry of Construction and Transport and Ráhel Orbán have also been contacted on the matter, but neither has responded.
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