BUDAPEST Feb 23 The United States said on
Thursday Hungary's central bank chief lacked credibility in
accusing an unspecified "large NATO ally" of trying to topple
the Hungarian government two years ago.
Gyorgy Matolcsy, a close ally of authoritarian Prime
Minister Viktor Orban, who has been involved in a series of
diplomatic spats with Washington, told a Parliament committee
hearing on Wednesday that a major NATO member had tried to
topple the government and central bank in 2014-2015.
He did not name the country, and the central bank declined
to comment when asked repeatedly by Reuters. The Hungarian
government also had no immediate comment.
"Mr. Matolcsy’s accusations are simply not credible," the
newspaper Nepszava quoted U.S. press attache in Budapest Richard
Damstra as saying.
"Hungary and the United States are partners, and allies in
NATO," he said. "The United States did not attempt to overthrow
the Hungarian government in 2014 or at any other time, and we do
not find it plausible that any NATO member would attempt to do
Matolcsy - whose bank also serves as the financial market
regulator - said the early 2015 collapse of brokerage Quaestor
had been part of the plot he described.
Quaestor collapsed after it was found to have issued bonds
at least 150 billion forints ($500 million) in excess of its
regulator-approved issuance programme. Two other brokerages
faced regulatory action and the scandal weighed on the forint.
"It fits into the activity conducted from the Budapest
embassy of a large NATO ally country, that aimed to topple the
government and the central bank and started in the autumn of
2014," Matolcsy told parliament.
Matolcsy has been head of the National Bank of Hungary since
2013. Orban became prime minister in 2010.
Orban's diplomatic clashes with the United States since he
came to power in 2010 have included a travel ban on six
Hungarian officials in 2014 over corruption allegations. The
move was seen as another warning to Budapest to reverse policies
Washington regarded as threatening democratic values.
(Reporting by Marton Dunai)