Budapest, Hungary – Every year, U.S. magazine Forbes releases its ranking of the planet’s billionaires and richest people. The world today counts a grand total of 2.153 billionaires, with a combined wealth of 8.7 trillion dollars. Two Hungarians made the list in 2019.
1. Sandor Csanyi
With an estimated net worth of 1.1 billion dollars, Sandor Csanyi, 65 years old, is the richest man in Hungary, and the 1.941st richest person on earth (gaining 58 spots compared to last year), according to Forbes. Sandor Csanyi is the CEO of OTP Bank, the most powerful retail bank in Hungary and one of the largest financial firms in Central and Eastern Europe – also owned by Megdet Rahimkulov, a Russian-born Hungarian businessman with a total wealth of 1.4 billion dollars (technically the richest man in Hungary, but categorized as a Russian citizen by Forbes).
Csanyi is also a major investor in other sectors, including in agriculture through Bonafarm, which operates the second biggest slaughterhouse in Hungary. He was a departmental head at the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry in the 1980’s.
Sandor Csanyi is a member of the board of giant energy conglomerate MOL, and the president of the Hungarian Football Association since 2010. He was named vice-president of UEFA in 2018. A long-standing member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban‘s inner circle, the relation between the two men started to deteriorate a few years ago. To know more about him, you can read his profile written by Forbes when he became Hungary’s first billionaire.
2. Lőrinc Mészáros
With a total wealth of 1 billion dollars, Lőrinc Mészáros is the 2.057th richest people on earth and second most wealthy Hungarian citizen. He made his fortune in the 1990’s after creating a gas-fitting company in Felcsút, the home-town of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, where he also served as a Fidesz-nominee mayor from 2011 to 2018. His company is now a major player in the construction market, thanks to big contracts from the government and EU subsidies. He now reportedly owns roughly 200 companies in Hungary, from media to insurance and tourism, and counts among PM Viktor Orban’s closest allies.
In his own words: “That I have been able to come so far, God, luck and the person of Viktor Orban have certainly played a role”.
Other Visegrad Group countries host a number of other well-connected businessmen who made a fortune, usually during the 1990’s privatization era. Although the two most egalitarian nations in Europe when it comes to income and wealth distribution, both Slovakia and the Czech Republic, for instance, have no shortage of billionaires: check out the complete list of the ten richest Czechs and Slovaks in the world.