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The Criminal Proceedings Against András Horváth Might Be Unlawful

The Criminal Proceedings Against András Horváth Might Be Unlawful

Joint press release of Transparency International Hungary, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, K-Monitor Watchdog for Public Funds and

The police are clearly displaying more vehemence in investigating the charges brought against András Horváth than in examining accusations of seriously fraudulent practices at National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary (“NAV”) made by him, which lead to allegedly immense VAT evasion.

The NAV says, that its former inspector abused personal data and violated tax secrecy measures when he unlawfully intruded IT records of the tax authority to obtain tax payers’ data. András Horváth based his announcement of corruption, in which he has said that the NAV intentionally facilitates VAT fraud, on the documentary now seized by police from him in the frame of a home search. Search and seizure raise serious problems for two reasons.

On the one hand, misuse of personal data can be considered a crime only if it is committed to gain undue advantage or if it harms significantly the interests of third person. In the case of András Horváth, we can exclude the possibility of any advantage of whatsoever kind as he made an announcement of public interest, and the only benefit he “gained” were two complaints filed against him by the NAV. If any harm was caused, that was done to the interests of those who committed the reported VAT fraud, when Mr. Horváth disclosed their acts to the authorities. Now, nobody can seriously think that the penal law is designed to protect the perpetrators of tax fraud themselves.

If it weren’t enough, we would like to draw the attention of the Police to Article 21 para (5) of Act CLXIII of 2009 on Protection of Fair Procedures, which says that a whistleblower cannot be sanctioned for breach of secrecy based on the content of their report unless h(s)e acted in bad faith. If the seizure was justified by an abuse of tax secrecy on behalf of András Horváth, based on the above cited law the investigation could not be pursued any longer, nor could the documents have been seized. The Act on the Protection of Fair Procedures provides protection for whistleblowers – on condition that it is applied. As long as it is not proven that András Horváth made untrue statements about the NAV and the VAT fraud case, he is entitled to the protection granted to whistleblowers. For example, he is entitled not to be investigated against, and instead for his own accusations to be investigated.

Therefore we call upon the police to consider if their investigation launched on account of misuse of personal data violates the Act on the Protection of Fair Procedures.

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