Hungarian ruling party lawmaker resigns after bribery allegations

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BUDAPEST, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Hungarian lawmaker Pal Volner, a member of the ruling Fidesz party, resigned from his position as a state secretary at the Justice Ministry on Tuesday after prosecutors alleged he had taken bribes, although he denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said Volner is suspected of accepting regular payments worth 2 million to 5 million forints ($6,000-$15,500) from the chairman of the Hungarian Court Bailiff's Chamber, an umbrella organisation for bailiffs, who execute claims included in court decisions.

The case comes at a sensitive time for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. His main challenger in what is expected to be a closely fought election next year, Peter Marki-Zay, is campaigning on an anti-corruption agenda.

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Prosecutors filed early on Tuesday for Volner's immunity from prosecution as a member of parliament to be lifted.

In a resignation statement issued through his lawyer, Volner denied any wrongdoing while performing his duties as state secretary - a junior ministerial position - and commissioner overseeing the bailiff's chamber. He had held the role since August 2019.

Volner, a lawmaker since Orban took power in a landslide in 2010, said he would be open to questioning by authorities.

Prosecutors said the case, covering a prolonged period, involves 12 suspects, including eight court bailiffs and a deputy bailiff. Six people, including the head of the chamber, are under arrest, prosecutors said.

($1 = 324.4 forints)

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Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Catherine Evans

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