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As is the case with most scandals involving fraud, details continue to be maddeningly scarce. However, it appears that numerous companies and high net worth individuals have been defrauded of as much as HUF 30 billion (USD 107 million) when gold bars pledged as collateral turned out to be made from brass.

Hungary’s National Investigation Office (NNYI) is reportedly investigating the pawn shop owner Kézizálog Zrt. and its CEO, Péter Biró. Police took Biró into preventative custody in May. The court subsequently ordered that he be held under house arrest pending trial.

Kézizálog Zrt. declared bankruptcy earlier this year owing nine major commercial banks, including CIB, Raiffeisen, OTP and Unicredit, some HUF 2o billion (USD 71 million). Alba Takarékszövetkezet, a savings and loan that is under liquidation, was reportedly defrauded of some HUF 600 million (USD 2.1 million). Inexplicably, the gold bars securing the loan were reportedly stored not in Alba’s bank safe but in Biró’s flat!

It is not known whether the fake bars of gold bore stamps verifying their authenticity. Napi.hu reports that neither of the two companies certified to authenticate precious metals in Hungary acknowledged doing so for Kézizálog Zrt..

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