Poland’s most wanted man enjoys secret luxury life in Budapest

Szabolcs Panyi/ VSquare.org
Wojciech Cieśla, Anna Gielewska/ FRONTSTORY.PL
Mariusz Gierszewski/ Radio Zet
Illustration: Maja Miłoszewska /FRONTSTORY.PL
Szabolcs Panyi/ VSquare.org
Wojciech Cieśla, Anna Gielewska/ FRONTSTORY.PL
Mariusz Gierszewski/ Radio Zet
Illustration: Maja Miłoszewska /FRONTSTORY.PL

Former Orlen CEO Daniel Obajtek claims he’s not hiding abroad. However, many of his videos on social media were shot in a Budapest penthouse apartment owned by a company close to Viktor Orbán’s government. During the time we were watching the house, a man hiding his face jumped into the same type of car that Obajtek posted about. On another occasion, Orbán’s close aide entered the building.

In the morning  of June 1, a tall woman with colored blonde hair wearing a black hoodie stepped out of a beautifully renovated 19th-century building of Budapest’s elegant Andrássy avenue. A huge advertisement banner above the building’s gate reads in English: “luxury apartments for sale,” and “where values and high quality meet.” The woman crossed Oktogon, the Hungarian capital’s iconic eight-sided square, then disappeared onto a smaller street while talking to someone on the phone.

Twelve minutes later, a metallic gray Lexus ES 300h briefly stopped in front of the same building. At exactly the same time, the ornate brown wooden gate opened, and a man hiding behind a face mask, sunglasses and a cap appeared on the street. The timing was so precise that there was barely enough time for us to start recording what was happening: the man had already jumped into the back seat of the car and disappeared.

Later, when we analyzed the video frame-by-frame, we could identify the driver as a blonde-haired woman — one who looked extremely similar to the one who had just left the building.

Meanwhile, the tinted passenger windows of the Lexus successfully hid the man. The whole process seemed carefully designed and perfectly executed in order to protect his identity. The letters on the license plate of the car, however, signify that it comes from Warsaw’s Mokotów district. 

We had good reason for watching the house on Andrássy, even on a Saturday morning: VSquare and Frontstory.pl’s partner on this investigation, Radio Zet, has learned from its sources that one of the building’s residents is Daniel Obajtek. He is the former CEO of the Polish state-owned oil company Orlen, and his long tenure leading the Polish oil company is embroiled in scandal. 

Was the man who did everything to hide his face while slipping into the car Obajtek? We can’t know for sure. However, a few weeks earlier, on April 10, Obajtek’s official Facebook account posted a photo of him fueling a metallic gray car. Only certain parts of the car are visible in the picture – but from those very distinct parts, the type of car, Lexus ES 300h, is easily recognizable.


This past week, in addition to watching the building at Andrássy in the hope that we could meet Obajtek, we also thoroughly analyzed his social media content. With the help of sources with intimate knowledge of the various relevant locations, we successfully identified the places from which he has been posting his videos — at least since February.

This is how we were able to confirm that many of his Instagram videos are indeed recorded at the same building at Andrássy from a 147 square meter penthouse apartment worth approx. €1.6-2 million. The official owner of the apartment is BBID Ltd, a real estate developer company that turned the previously run-down building into luxury housing. The owners of the company reportedly have close ties to Viktor Orbán’s government and are even business relations with the Hungarian Prime Minister’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz. According to Radio Zet’s sources, the penthouse where Obajtek spends considerable time is rented out, although it’s unclear who is officially renting it.

Obajtek posted his first video from the penthouse apartment on February 19. In April, he even conducted a Youtube interview with a right-wing journalist  in what seems to be his secret Budapest home. Another recurring location in Obajtek’s videos is Budapest’s City Park (Városliget) at the end of Andrássy avenue, from which he appears to have posted multiple videos – including one mocking Polish media by suggesting he is not “on the run” from his scandals but rather getting into shape to face the “media’s attacks.”

Although the videos are carefully edited so as to not show recognizable landmarks, Hungarian text or anything else that would give away their locations, we could still identify them using open source research. 

Recently, Obajtek has been the subject of much attention from the public — as well as from Polish prosecutors, due to revelations about Orlen’s gigantic financial losses during his tenure as CEO. Polish investigators are currently conducting three main investigations into dealings under Obajtek’s leadership:

  • on the merger of the state-owned Orlen and Lotos energy companies and the agreement to sell a 30 percent stake in the Gdansk Refinery to Saudi Aramco
  • on Orlen’s huge financial losses, which were caused by the radical cutting of fuel prices on the wholesale and retail markets in autumn 2023 – and which may have been related to the parliamentary elections (the idea being that lower prices would boost the then-ruling Law and Justice government’s chances)
  • the unsupervised transfer of more than PLN 1.5 billion to OTS (Orlen Trading Switzerland).

So far Obajtek is expected to testify in the prosecutor’s investigation as a witness – he is not charged. Though according to Gazeta Wyborcza, staying abroad might be a preventive measure for him to avoid any potential charges before the European Parliament elections. Obajtek is running as the Law and Justice’s candidate from Podkarpacie (Southern Poland).

Obajtek is not the first person from outside of Hungary who, when scrutinized by their home countries’ authorities, feels that it is safer under Hungarian jurisdiction. In 2018, after he was convicted and sentenced to jail, former North Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski fled to Hungary, where he was granted asylum. In early 2024, facing charges at home, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spent multiple days at the Hungarian Embassy in Brasília, as the New York Times has uncovered. Both of them reportedly closely coordinated with Hungarian government officials. 

There is no information on whether Obajtek also enjoys the protection of Hungarian authorities or communicates with them. However, shortly after 6pm on Monday, June 4, we spotted Viktor Orbán’s close personal aide Dávid Héjj entering the Andrássy avenue building. We have no information as to which apartment he went into, but he routinely typed in the gate code without any help, suggesting it is not his first visit there. There was no indication that Obajtek was also in the building at the time.

What is public knowledge, however, is that Obajtek knows Viktor Orbán: back in 2022, when Orlen and Hungary’s MOL oil company entered into a deal over acquiring gas stations in both countries, the deal was “welcomed” by the government and Obajtek was received by Orbán in his office.

We sent requests for comment to BBID Ltd. and the office of Viktor Orbán, none of them reacted before publication. 

Obajtek replied: “I have never made a secret of the fact that I conduct business talks not only in Poland, but also abroad. It is, therefore, natural that I have to stop somewhere during these trips. As a private person, I do not have to explain myself. Please do not look for sensations. I am not asking you where you are staying during your trips.”

High life in Budapest

In recent days, Daniel Obajtek, former chairman of the fuel giant Orlen, currently wanted by the prosecutor’s office and a parliamentary commission of inquiry, has been regularly appearing on the campaign trail in Podkarpacie as the Law and Justice party’s candidate for the European Parliament. However, according to Gazeta Wyborcza, he then disappears in the evenings with his bodyguard – to an unknown location. He simply can’t be found by authorities at any of his official addresses in Poland. In this way, he avoids being served summonses by the Polish prosecutor’s office and the Sejm’s inquiry committee investigating the so-called cash–for–visa scandal under the former government (where Obajtek is to be asked about visas for migrants working in Orlen’s investments).

On Monday, June 4, Obajtek finally announced that he does not intend to appear at any hearings before the elections and said that his lawyer will speak on his behalf. 

Obajtek was dismissed by the supervisory board as CEO of Orlen in February, after which he became rarely seen in Poland. He has consistently denied allegations that he is afraid of being charged and that he is running for the European Parliament to acquire parliamentary immunity. He also denies that he fled to Budapest, instead greeting on social media “everyone who looks for him in Hungary, Albania, or in Dubai.” 

However, since mid-February, multiple videos featured on his social media accounts were definitely shot in Budapest. And most of them are from inside the same apartment.

The luxury building on Andrássy has its own website. The website features a detailed description of apartments, their blueprints and a gallery. It even has a 96-page brochure with pictures and visualizations – which are not real photos but computer graphic depictions of apartment interiors. Moreover, there are additional photos available for at least two of the four penthouse apartments that are still up for sale at the Andrássy building. Using these images, we were able to identify Obajtek’s penthouse based on the layout of the apartment as well as the furniture, accessories and decorations, which are also visible in Obajtek’s videos. 

After analyzing these details we could conclude with a high level of confidence that he is using the 147 square meters penthouse apartment featured in the company’s brochure. It includes a 40 square meter living room and a 17 square meter terrace overlooking the restaurant-filled Liszt Ferenc (Franz Liszt) square and Andrássy avenue, the boulevard famous for its high density of luxury brand retail stores. 

But how, exactly, do we know this is the relevant apartment?

On February 19, 20 and 22, Obajtek posted two videos where he’s first sitting and then standing in front of a dark gray desk and a chair. A unique looking lamp called Cordero XL (price tag: €810) is also visible, as is a brown wooden wall cover. The angle of the ceiling reveals that he’s in a room directly below the roof that has metal shutters. Then, on March 5, Obajek posted a video where we can see the same wooden wall cover in the background. This time, however, the camera angle reveals more about the layout of the apartment and also shows stairs, a mirror and a burgundy colored wall in the background. 

Later, he uploaded more videos where he’s sitting at the same desk, posted on March 9, 12 and 25. He uploaded snippets of video interviews with Fakt and posted them on April 8. An interview with wPolscePL was posted to his channel on April 16. Meanwhile, another video from April 14 reveals even more of the details of the table as well as the chair’s metallic legs.

When browsing through the website of the renovated Andrássy building, one of the four unique penthouse apartments i featured in the brochure – gives us an almost exact match. For example, there’s a small working or home office corner below the metal shutters and the wooden wall cover in the background. It features the same table, the Cordero XL lamp, chair – plus the stairs, the mirror and the burgundy wall in the background are all also visible.

But the wooden wall cover and color of the wall next to the stairs do not match. However, a source with intimate knowledge of the building explained to us that most images on the website are not real-life photographs but so-called visualizations and computer graphics that were created as promotional images before the actual construction, furnishing and decoration was finished. 

Many small details, like materials, fabric and colors, were changed in the actual reconstruction and renovation of the building, the source said. We could also find the same wooden material seen behind Obajtek in most of the videos when browsing the real-life photos of the neighboring penthouse apartments at a real estate agency’s website. In this picture, the wooden material is used on a cupboard cover, and the same chair and lamp that we see in the videos on Obajtek’s office corner pops up, too. 

On April 22, Obajtek gave an in-person interview from his living room to the Dla Pieniędzy Youtube channel. In the video, he is seen sitting on a big white couch next to a rounded table and in front of the metal window shutters – all of which are also featured in the Andrássy apartment’s visualization. In the video, we can also see that Obajtek and the journalists are located in a corner below the metal shutters. This confirms that Obajtek’s apartment is indeed in the corner of the building, and those large metal shutters can also be seen from the outside in a bird’s eye photograph. Moreover, in the Youtube interview, a beige-colored framed print can also be spotted behind Obajtek. Although we couldn’t find this exact piece among the luxury housing’s promotional images, the source with intimate knowledge of the building confirmed that this art print was indeed purchased for the building as well.

The home office corner with the desk and the living room are not the only locations from which Obajtek shot footage for his social media accounts. On February 26 and May 24, he shot videos while standing and sitting next to wallpaper depicting golden brown colored silhouettes of palm tree leaves. Based on promotional images of the penthouse, this is the wallpaper in the apartment’s dining room. According to the source with intimate knowledge of the building, however, details in the dining room were changed too: for example, the color of the sofas was changed from green to white.

The fact that real estate tied to Obajtek is hidden or hard to find is not new. Polish media reported for many years new discoveries about Obajtek’s assets, which included various pieces of real estate, plots of land, villas, guesthouses and rental accommodations in Poland. 

Man on the run

During his apparently lengthy stay in Budapest, Daniel Obajtek regularly visited City Park (Városliget), the Hungarian capital’s second largest public park, popular among locals and tourists alike. City Park is located at the end of Andrássy avenue, right behind Heroes’ Square. It is home to multiple well-known landmarks such as the Széchenyi Bath and the Budapest Zoo. 

However, when Obajtek shot his videos there, he made sure that no buildings or easily recognizable spots were shown. So, for help confirming his location, we turned to a local resident who wished to remain anonymous –and who not only lives in the area but grew up there and knows each and every corner of the park. With their help, we managed to find the exact locations and angles featured in the CEO-turned-politician’s videos.

In the aforementioned video where Obajtek is mocking Polish media with subtitles saying he is running to get in shape to face the “media’s attacks,” posted on March 19, he is running in the green area close to the eastern edge of the park’s big lake. Although the trees and bushes became much more lush between the time Obajtek recorded his video in March and when we took our photos in late May, the branches of the trees, their unique patterns and shapes as well as their distance from lamp poles or benches make the spots recognizable.

On May 1, Obajtek posted a video on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Poland’s EU accession. He also shot this footage in Budapest’s City Park. Thanks to the local resident who knows the area extremely well, we could once again identify where exactly he stood.

On May 9, another video was uploaded to the former Orlen CEO’s social media accounts, shot in almost the same location as the previous one. However, in this case, it was much easier to locate the exact spot due to the bright-colored graffitis in the background as well as the mix of different species of trees.

Ironically, one of the works of graffiti in the background reads “visa.” Among the many scandals of the previous Law and Justice government, the so-called cash-for-visa scandal clearly stands out. The Sejm inquiry committee investigating the corruption case also wants to summon Obajtek to talk about the relationship that Orlen had to the mass issuance of visas. The former CEO denies having any connection and has so far refused to testify.

In the evening of June 4, Obajtek appeared in a live stream on Facebook. This time, he placed a map of Podkarpacie and a photo wallpaper in the background. He assured that he is not hiding from the Polish prosecutor nor the inquiry committee – however, he plans to appear at the hearings only after the elections.

Szabolcs Panyi

VSquare’s Budapest-based lead investigative editor in charge of Central European investigations, Szabolcs Panyi is also a Hungarian investigative journalist at Direkt36. He covers national security, foreign policy, and Russian and Chinese influence. He was a European Press Prize finalist in 2018 and 2021.

Anna Gielewska

Anna Gielewska is co-founder and editor-in-chief of VSquare and co-founder of Polish investigative outlet FRONTSTORY.PL. She is also vice-chairwoman of Fundacja Reporterów (Reporters Foundation). A journalist specializing in investigating organized disinformation and propaganda, Gielewska was the John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University (2019/20) and has been shortlisted for the Grand Press Award (2015, 2021, 2022) and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Award (2021, 2023). She was the recipient of the Novinarska Cena in 2022.

Wojciech Cieśla

Co-founder and editor-in-chief at FRONTSTORY.PL, Wojciech Cieśla is an award-winning Polish journalist who, since 2016, has worked with Investigate Europe. He is the co-founder and chairman of Fundacja Reporterów (Reporters Foundation). He is based in Warsaw.