Hungary's tax chief sues US diplomat for libel

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The head of Hungary's tax authority on Thursday sued a senior American diplomat in Budapest for libel after the envoy said the U.S. had knowledge of corruption at the tax office.

Ildiko Vida's lawyer says he filed a criminal lawsuit and a civil lawsuit for libel against U.S. Embassy charge d' affairs M. Andre Goodfriend seeking compensation of 5 million forints ($20,200).

Lawyer Barnabas Futo says he has also asked the Budapest Court and the chief prosecutor's office to adjourn the lawsuits until the U.S. decides whether or not to suspend Goodfriend's diplomatic immunity.

Vida is the only one of six otherwise unnamed public officials to have admitted having been banned from entering the U.S. because of corruption allegations. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday he would fire Vida unless she sued Goodfriend or if the corruption allegations were proven to be true.

The U.S. Embassy would not comment Thursday.

In an interview last week with the Heti Valasz magazine, Goodfriend also said the U.S. entry bans were issued because of suspicions that Hungarian government employees were directly involved in cases of corruption.

Some cases alluded to by Goodfriend involved products like cooking oil, sugar and grains sold by companies earning profits from fraudulent tax filings and rebates, allowing them to undercut the prices of similar products made by, among others, American firms.

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