BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Prime Minister Viktor Orban dismissed on Friday a U.S. document setting out Washington’s concern over corruption in Hungary as a “flimsy piece of paper” which could have been written by his domestic opponents.
The document sent to Orban’s government by the United States embassy in Budapest follows signs of U.S. disquiet at what it sees as an undermining of democracy in Hungary and a drift away from the West toward Russia.
Last month Washington took the highly unusual step of blacklisting six people with ties to the government in Hungary, a NATO ally and European Union member, from entering the United States, accusing them of involvement in corruption.
The head of Hungary’s tax authority has already confirmed she was on the list, along with several colleagues at the tax office. She has firmly denied any wrongdoing.
The Hungarian government late on Thursday published a document on its website which it said it had received from the US Embassy in Budapest last week. The two-page document describes a series of US concerns raised since October 2013 over agricultural VAT fraud and the nationalization of tobacco sale. The US embassy was not immediately available to verify the document.
“We have indeed received a paper, which is ... a collection of the allegations that we could hear from opposition parties in the past four years,” Orban told public radio. “This is a flimsy piece of paper. If it had not been written in English, I would think it had been written by an opposition party.”
Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Dominic Evans