Billionaire George Soros has been slammed by politicians in his native country Hungary for his pro-illegal immigration stance during a historic refugee crisis in the region.
Soros, who was born in the country and lived there until his late teen years, has been vocal with his support to take in these asylum speakers and provide them with a head start in the form of $16,800 annually for two years. Soros wrote an op-ed in The Financial Times excoriating the European Union, which "failed to act collectively" and forced countries to take matters "into their own hands."
"[Soros] keeps bombarding the international public with his earth-shattering plans, quite obviously, in the name of true selflessness which he has manifested in so many ways in the countries where his activities have resulted in sovereign default in the past 30 years," Hungarian Minister János Lázár, who currently heads Prime Minister Viktor Orban's office, said at a press conference earlier this month.
"[Soros] keeps bombarding the international public with his earth-shattering plans, quite obviously, in the name of true selflessness which he has manifested in so many ways in the countries where his activities have resulted in sovereign default in the past 30 years,"
- Hungarian official
In 1992, Soros bet $10 billion against the value of the British pound. When the currency collapse known as "Black Wednesday" came, Soros made an estimated $1 billion and became known as "the man who broke the Bank of England." In 2009, the Hungarian government fined him $2.2 million for attempting to manipulate the stock of Hungary's largest bank. In a long-running case, a French court convicted Soros in 2002 for insider trading in the late 1980s, but the Hungary-born investor appealed, arguing that the French law on insider trading at the time was too ambiguous to find him guilty. In 2011, a European court upheld the conviction.
A recent opinion poll sponsored by the Budapest think tank Republikon found that just 19 percent believe Hungary has a duty to take in refugees, while 66 percent deem them a threat and should not be let in. The Ipsos survey of 2,000 people, published Aug. 27 as the Keleti camp was growing, had a margin of error below 3 percentage points.
Hungary's leaders have been criticized for their tough stance on immigration.
The findings reflect a country where ethnic minorities barely exist outside Budapest and right-wing beliefs dominate in small towns that strongly support the ultranationalist Jobbik party. Government billboards warn the newcomers to respect the country's laws and culture, but the signs all are in Hungarian, which virtually none of them can read.
Then again, it's hard to find one intending to stay in Hungary anyway.
"The government says they don't want immigrants here and they can't take our jobs away," said satirist Gergely Kovacs, a 35-year-old graphic designer. "But the truth is that nobody wants to come here. Every immigrant would spend just three days here if we kept the borders open. There's no need to hate them because they're leaving as quickly as possible."
The 85-year-old hedge fund manager has a net worth of $24.2 billion, according to Forbes.com, which makes him the 19th wealthiest person in U.S. and second among hedge fund managers. The most recent filing shows Soros Fund Management holds stakes in 263 companies with a total value of nearly $11 billion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report