Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Budapest -FerencKumin -As a Government spokesman, I avoid commenting on political party issues, but I do speak up about media bias, and this story has become much bigger than mere party politics. Over the last few weeks, a major scandal has shaken Hungarian politics. A vice president of the Socialist Party stepped down from his party position and gave up his parliamentary mandate in February when media revealed that he held a large amount of cash – reportedly more than 1 million dollars or 770,000 euros – in a foreign bank account that he has neglected to declare since 2008, something required of all MPs.

Earlier this week, he was arrested on charges of forgery, holding a fake passport from Guinea-Bissau that had apparently been used to open other bank accounts. The accused has made statements that he was merely an “asset manager” and that the money was not his own. The response from the international press corps? A deafening silence.

Reuters ran a story in early February, but that had only the initial details. In the region, the Austrian Die Presse devoted some coverage to the story, and it showed up in the Slovak Hospodárske Noviny and the Polish Rzeczpospolita. But I have not been able to find other mention in the mainstream international press. If I missed it, I would be happy to be corrected. If you want to read about it in English, you’ll find it only on a few local sources:,, That’s despite the fact that Agence France Press, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, Reuters and many others have correspondents based here in Budapest.

As you might guess, the story has been big in the Hungarian press. Whatever we know about what makes a story newsworthy, this one would seem to have at least a few of the ingredients. And with elections just a few weeks away, it’s the kind of thing that can have an impact on results. Why is it being ignored?

Photo - Former Socialist VP in the spotlight. Source: MTVA Questions or comments?

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13 March 2014