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The National Bank of Hungary (NBH) is filing a criminal report over remarks by opposition Democratic Coalition deputy leader László Varju, the central bank said on Friday. The bank said in a statement that at a press conference earlier on Friday, Varju had “intentionally misinterpreted” central bank governor György Matolcsy’s presentation at a recent meeting of parliament’s economic committee. Varju’s “false claims endanger public trust in financial stability”, the statement said. The central bank will take legal action and firmly calls on DK to retract those “irresponsible statements made for political profiteering, and refrain from spreading fake news in future”, it said.
The bank cited a stability report it published in late November showing that the Hungarian banking system has robust capital reserves and operates with considerable liquid assets. NBH calculations and stress test data show that banks’ shock resilience is excellent and they are in significantly better condition that at the time of the 2008 crisis, it added. “These are the bare facts and everything else is intentional dissemination of misleading information and fake news,” NBH said.
The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) later called on the government to reassure bank clients they will not touch their savings, and DK also accused the ruling parties of threatening to strip Varju of his parliamentary positions. DK shadow prime minister Klára Dobrev told an online press conference on Saturday that Varju earlier had called on the cabinet to reassure people over the security of their savings.
Earlier this week, Varju cited central bank governor György Matolcsy as saying that Hungary would be among the five most vulnerable countries in the world. Further, Matolcsy said inflation would be between 14 and 18% in 2023, and added that there was no longer coherence between the government’s economic policymaking and the central bank.
Dobrev insisted that at the news of Varju’s press conference, Fidesz had threatened to strip him of his positions in parliament and to launch a criminal investigation. The National Bank of Hungary (NBH) also filed a complaint against Varju, she said. “We reject all government threats; neither the shadow cabinet nor DK can be intimidated,” she said, calling on the government to clarify whether they “agree with Matolcsy’s assessment” and whether they want to “access private savings”.
In response, Fidesz said the leftist party was “acting on orders and helping the attack on the forint … by spreading fearmongering messages and fake news”. “The speculators of Soros’s ilk earn money by attacking the forint. [Dobrev] is spreading fake news because it is in the interest of her clients,” the statement said.