Andy Vajna

Official AndyAndy (András) Vajna has served as the Orbán government‘s commissioner for development of the national film industry since 2011 (source in Hungarian). Vajna operates in this capacity under the authority of the Antal Rogán-led Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office.

Vajna is also the  owner of the company that operates the commercial television station TV2 and the co-owner of the Korda Film Studios located outside Budapest (source in Hungarian). In 2014, the Vajna-owned company Las Vegas Casino won state concessions to run all five casinos permitted to operate in Budapest and surrounding Pest County (source in Hungarian). These casinos generated total revenue of 21.6 billion forints (69.7 million euros) in 2015 (source in Hungarian).

Vajna is widely regarded as one of the most powerful oligarchs in Hungary (source in Hungarian).

Vajna was born in Budapest, though emigrated to the United States with his family following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. In the U.S., Vajna became a successful filmmaker, producing the Rambo movies and some of the Terminator movies, among many others.

Vajna appeared in the annual ranking  of the 100 richest Hungarians for the first time in 2016, placing number 16 with estimated wealth of 44 billion forints, or around 142 million euros (source in Hungarian).

Andy Vajna and TV2

Vajna with Árpád Habony (photo: Népszabadság).

Andy Vajna with Árpád Habony (photo: Népszabadság).

Andy Vajna purchased the TV2 commercial television station in October 2015 (source in Hungarian). Vajna financed his purchase of the station partially through loans from the state-owned Hungarian Import-Export Bank and MKB Bank (source A and B in Hungarian).

An associate of businessman Lajos Simicska, who was the main Fidesz oligarch in Hungary before his dramatic split with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in February 2015, claimed that a company under his ownership had exercised its option rights to acquire TV2 before Vajna’s purchase of the station (source in Hungarian). The Metropolitan Court of Budapest (Fővárosi Törvényszék) will consider this claim beginning in July 2016 (source in Hungarian).

Opposition media claim that TV 2 has become a vehicle for the dissemination of government propaganda under the supervision of the Prime Minister Orbán’s unofficial chief strategic adviser Árpád Habony since Vajna’s acquisition of the station (source ABC and D in Hungarian). Vajna denied that Habony exercises any influence over TV2’s programming, though he did acknowledge that he regards the prime minister’s strategic adviser as a “friend” (source in Hungarian).

Vajna has refused to comment regarding media reports that he provided Habony with a personal loan of 150,000 dollars (source in Hungarian).

Last updated: June 8, 2016.