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Matolcsy under fire for alleged leak

March 15th, 2014

Liberal and left-wing commentators support opposition claims that MNB chief György Matolcsy leaked key information to Goldman Sachs bankers in 2011.

In a book on György Matolcsy’s years as Minister of the Economy published earlier this week, Helga Wiedermann, who was his chief staff member at the time described a meeting between Matolcsy and representatives of Goldman Sachs in 2011, at which the Hungarian cabinet minister allegedly told his partners that Hungary would ask for an IMF standby credit line that very day. Opposition politicians then accused Matolcsy of having revealed classified information and claimed that the forint suddenly gained over one per cent that afternoon as a result of insider trading. They argued that Matolcsy should therefore resign from his post as President of the National Bank. MNB dismissed the allegations, saying that the scene described in the book was pure fiction.

Népszabadság’s editorial asks if the leak was pure fiction, why the book was introduced to the public and to the Prime Minister himself at a public reception as the chronicle of a whole era. The real problem, however, is that they still do not understand what the problem with the author is, who despite her senior and sensitive position, did not realise how destructive such a story could be for György Matolcsy.

In Népszava, Tamás Mészáros says it would be difficult to prove that the 2011 November forint hike was indeed caused by Matolcsy’s remarks, but the way Helga Wiedermann interprets the episode is revealing. Instead of realizing how irresponsible her boss was, she goes on to explain that speculators had plotted against Hungary from the very start and describes the incident as proof of that. Mészáros’s own interpretation is that the volatility of the forint was not a result of international conspiracies but of Matolcsy’s “freedom fight” against the IMF.

On Origo,  Gyula Pleschinger, a member of the MNB Monetary  Board, who used to serve as undersecretary under Matolcsy as Minister of the Economy, says he sat at the lunch table where his minister met international bankers in 2011 and Matolcsy made no reference to the request addressed to the International Monetary Fund. He also denied other details of the version published in the book and said none of the participants stood up to leave the table (to make phone calls) as suggested by Helga Wiedermann.

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