Former Justice Minister's ex-husband releases recording he claims proof of high-level involvement in corruption case

March 26. 2024. – 11:59 AM


Former Justice Minister's ex-husband releases recording he claims proof of high-level involvement in corruption case
Judit Varga and Péter Magyar – Photo: Zoltán Máthé / MTI


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Former Justice Minister Judit Varga’s ex-husband published a recording which he said was made in their home in January 2023, after Varga told him that she was part of a mafia government that's impossible to get out of. Magyar previously promised that the recording would reveal that Varga had first-hand information about the Völner-Schadl case, and that the name of Antal Rogán, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, would also be mentioned in the conversation.

The former Justice Minister and Péter Magyar divorced in March 2023. Magyar has a law degree and has previously worked in several positions supporting the Orbán government. Among others, during Hungary’s previous EU Presidency, he served as a diplomat at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the European Union in Brussels and from 2015 he headed up the team of the Prime Minister's office responsible for relations between the government and the European Parliament. He later served as a board member of several state-owned companies but resigned from these positions after his ex-wife announced her departure from her public roles.

In recent weeks, he has voiced criticism of the Orbán government on several occasions, has announced that he would start a political party, and has even been summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office over several of his claims. He has accused Antal Rogán, Orbán’s Cabinet Minister, who is also responsible for overseeing the secret service and government communication of being involved in the biggest corruption case of recent years, the Schadl-Völner case. The secondary defendant of the case is Pál Völner, the former Deputy Justice Minister, who is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for various favours.

Several investigations have now been launched to look into his statements, and it is in response to this that he has released this recording which he claims proves that Antal Rogán “and his people” had tampered with the documents of the investigation of the Schadl-Völner case.

Some of it went like this:

Varga: “Well, just that Dani should go to the prosecutor's office and ask what kind of...”

Magyar: "Oh, is that something else?"

Varga: "Because they also have a copy of these."

Magyar: "And you guys didn't see it, or have the press seen it already?"

Varga: “Well, they probably gave it to them, and theoretically, they reviewed it back then.”

Magyar: "You mean Rogán and his people?"

Varga: “Yes, there's nothing bad. (...) Of course, they deleted references to themselves. They advised the prosecutors about what should be removed, but they didn't fully comply.”

Once the recording had been made public, Magyar’s former wife, Judit Varga published a statement on her social media account, saying, among other things:

“I'm appalled. Péter Magyar really did it. He's been blackmailing me with this recording for over a year. He made a secret audio recording of his former spouse, me, in our shared home and has now used it to advance his political ambitions. Such a man is not worthy of any trust. I gifted the man who did this with 3 sons. The man who did this to me is the same one to whom I gave countless opportunities for a fresh start with love and hope during the terrible years of domestic violence. I would not wish this feeling on anyone."

Magyar had earlier claimed that he could prove the following claims with the recording:

  1. According to him, György Schadl, the former President of the Court Bailiffs, was Antal Rogán's man.
  2. He also claimed that the government was aware of the surveillance of Deputy Justice Minister Pál Völner who is accused of corruption even before the arrest of Schadl, and that they had informed the former Deputy Justice Minister about this. Telex has also received such information.
  3. Magyar's third allegation was that Antal Rogán and/or his people had gone into the prosecutor's office and had manipulated the prosecution documents, which he said meant that they had either removed or deleted things from them or had otherwise altered them. The investigative material that Telex has received does indeed have some holes in it that are difficult to explain.

Magyar claimed that his sources were his ex-wife Judit Varga, who was Minister of Justice at the time, and Gergely Gulyás, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister's Office, whom he described as a friend.

Péter Magyar has also said that at the time he felt he had to record some of the conversation in order to protect his family. He claimed that originally he had not planned on using the recording, but now feels that it could save the country from the current government.

He said that two or three weeks ago he had indicated to Varga that he might make the recording public. According to Magyar, Varga must have been aware of what might be on it. He also said he had tried to persuade Varga to go to the Prosecutor's Office to testify, but she refused.

According to Judit Varga's ex-husband, after the evidence has been made public, the government and the Chief Prosecutor will have no choice but to resign.

"Whether they do so is obviously their decision. If they do, there is still a chance for the honourable part of Fidesz to save something of the idea of a civic Hungary for later. If not, then they will do to the right the same thing that Ferenc Gyurcsány did to his own party after his infamous speech at Őszöd surfaced."

Who is Péter Magyar?

Until early February, only the most avid followers of news were familiar with the name of Péter Magyar. While his ex-wife, Judit Varga was the Minister of Justice, there had been the occasional photo of the two of them attending a sporting event or something similar together, with the news of them filing for divorce also having been briefly covered by the press in the spring of 2023.

This changed on 10 February, when his Varga announced her resignation as MP and leader of Fidesz’ EP list, as well as her complete withdrawal from public life on the heels of former President Katalin Novák’s resignation from her post. (Novák resigned after it surfaced that she had granted a presidential pardon to a man who had been sentenced for his involvement in covering up the pedophilic acts of the director of a children’s home. As Justice Minister, Varga had countersigned the decision.)

Magyar first voiced his opinion on the clemency case shortly before his former wife resigned. In a comment on social media, he wrote that

"For a long time I believed in an ideal: in a national, sovereign, civic Hungary, and for many years I tried to contribute to its realisation with my own modest means. But over the last few years, and today I have finally come to realise that all this is really just a political product, a sugar-coating that serves only two purposes: to cover up the operation of the apparatus of power and to amass immeasurable fortunes.”

Already then, he openly attacked Antal Rogán by saying:”I believe that Hungary is not a country of the Rogán Antals, the oligarchs or even a few influential families."

Magyar has previously worked as a lawyer, a diplomat, and the executive director of several state-owned companies. Among others, he has served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and even led the Legal Directorate of the Hungarian Development Bank for a while. He comes from a family of successful lawyers and influential individuals, and has been a close friend of Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office since their college days. In fact, Gulyás was the one who introduced him to his now ex-wife.

He caused quite a stir a few days after his initial post, when he announced that he had resigned from his positions in both state-owned companies and had also resigned from the supervisory board of the partly state-owned MBH Bank Nyrt. He added that the resignations were not due to professional reasons, but were instead driven by conscience:

“I don't wish even for a minute to be part of a system where the real culprits hide behind women's skirts, where the likes of Tóni, Ádám and Barbara can laugh at us as they sacrifice without a second thought those who, unlike them, have never worked for their own material interests, but for the sake of their country and their fellow countrymen" – he explained.

Who are Tóni, Ádám and Barbara?

The names of Tóni, Ádám and Barbara are mentioned in the investigation documents of the biggest Hungarian corruption case of recent years, known as the Schadl-Völner case. According to these, the primary defendant, György Schadl (former President of the Court Bailiffs) had a close relationship with Ádám Nagy, Antal Rogán’s Chief of Staff. Rogán is the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Chief and goes by the nickname of Tóni. His wife's name is Barbara.

Schadl and the secondary defendant Pál Völner (former Deputy Minister of Justice) are accused of corruption and bribery, among others. Völner worked directly under the now former Justice Minister, Judit Varga. More details about the case can be found in our previous article.

Rogán has claimed that he has never known anyone by the name of Schadl and doesn't think this would change in the future.

What are his allegations?

Magyar then gave an interview to Partizán, an independent YouTube channel specializing in long interviews, where he made several strongly critical statements about the Orbán government’s modus operandi:

  • “As a person of right-wing sentiment, I was deeply outraged by the way the right-wing press, under Antal Rogán's leadership, treated the President of the Republic.”
  • He said he found the government’s initial silence on the clemency case hurtful.
  • “Every last public statement of any ministry must first be approved by the office of Antal Rogán…When it comes to communication, what Rogán says goes.”

He also gave a long interview to Telex, during which he said:

  • “I've attended many dinners and other events with basically only business leaders present. There were thousands of billions of forints around the table, and sometimes the Prime Minister was there as well, his son-in-law was frequently present. Obviously, the topic of conversation was not how to save the country, or fix the healthcare system, or reform education. Instead, it was about who should take over what, what football team should be financially supported, what kind of investments could be made in what kind of setup, or who should buy the airport.”
  • He said that at these events he didn't hear the Prime Minister talk about specific deals. Instead, he mostly spoke about the general state of the country. “I remember that when getting the EU money was the hot potato, when it was impossible to tell whether it would come or not, he joked that if he were Brussels he would certainly not give us a penny, and he wondered whether they would be brave enough to do that.”
  • He claims that at a government meeting, his ex-wife once told Orbán about a proposed amendment to the Fundamental Law that she not only had professional but moral problems with it as well. “At this, the air froze, and the Prime Minister simply told her that she was not there to have moral objections.”
  • In relation to the Schadl-Völner case, Magyar later claimed that the government was fully aware of what was going on, as early as six months before the case broke, and that he has proof that Antal Rogán and his team had tampered with the documents of the investigation.

New investigations have been launched

Since his statements, the Central Investigative Prosecutor’s Office and the Integrity Authority have both summoned him. The Integrity Authority told Telex that they summoned Magyar because:

“As part of its risk assessment activities, the Integrity Authority is constantly monitoring the current events in Hungarian public life as well as the news published in the press. It was in this context that we spoke with Péter Magyar. Cleaning up the economy and our nation's wellbeing is our common cause, and we all have to do our part."

Meanwhile, several of Magyar’s statements led to the Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office launching an investigation, because he claimed he had knowledge (and proof) of a case of bribery and the failure to report it.

Why now?

Péter Magyar is someone who has benefited from the Orbán-system himself and has enjoyed close ties with several key authority figures, which has made many of his critics suspicious of him. Many have asked Magyar why he chose this particular time to speak up. To them, he said: "This is partly due to considerations for family, and partly because it is a terribly difficult decision to break with one's entire past life and put decades-old relationships at risk. And thirdly, no matter what anyone says, Antal Rogán is not the majority of Fidesz, there are a lot of good people in this system working solely for the benefit of their country and the well-being of the Hungarian people, and not for the enrichment of oligarchs.”

A new party?

On the occasion of the national holiday, 15 March, Magyar organized a gathering on one of the capital’s central boulevards. When he took to the stage, he admitted that he was surprised and quite moved by the number of those who came to hear him speak. Estimates have put the size of the crowd at 30 thousand, which is more people than any of the opposition parties have managed to gather in one place in years. He said that Hungarians no longer believe the government members who are leading the country as if it were a fiefdom, and stressed that there is no future for Hungary without quality education and quality healthcare. In his opinion, the Chief Prosecutor should be sacked, and Hungary should join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Magyar also stressed that Hungary and Europe cannot be separated.

He also announced that he would soon be establishing a political party “which all well-meaning Hungarians who want to work for their country are welcome to join."

Péter Magyar speaking to the crowd at his meeting on 15 March in Budapest – Photo: János Bődey / Telex
Péter Magyar speaking to the crowd at his meeting on 15 March in Budapest – Photo: János Bődey / Telex

What’s the government saying to all this?

Not much. Those in the top ranks of the Orbán government haven’t said much about Magyar’s statements. The first comment came from the Prime Minister’s Press Chief, Bertalan Havasi, who simply said that

“The government doesn't deal with the desperate attempts of individuals in hopeless situations.”

Balázs Orbán, the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Advisor called Magyar’s accusations a media hack. Historian Mária Schmidt, who has very close ties to the government, has called his statements “damaging fables”. When faced with a question about Magyar, the Prime Minister simply said: “I work on matters of government. I don't deal with TV series."

Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office also reacted to the recording on social media, saying:

“Much ado about nothing. The balloon has popped! A domestic dispute with an intimidated wife has got nothing to do with public life. Péter Magyar is the new Márki-Zay! The only difference is that Péter Márki-Zay did not bully his wife!"

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