Saturday, October 16, 1999

Taken from The 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference
9-15 October, 1999

Durban, South Africa

....Hence, despite numerous corruption scandals and allegations in Poland 24, only four public officials were convicted of corruption in the seven-year period 1990-6, according to the Polish Ministry of Justice 25. Similarly, only 17 officials were found guilty of being involved in bribery in Bulgaria in 199526, despite the fact that, less than eighteen months later, a new governing coalition was elected that had made the fight against the widespread problem of corruption one of its leading campaign planks (i.e. which strongly suggests that corruption was a major problem, whatever the statistics). Only two judges were convicted for accepting bribes in Lithuania in the period 1991-7, in spite of a popular perception of widespread corruption in the judicial and law- enforcement agencies27 . And only twelve officials (ten of them police officers) were charged with bribe-taking in Czechia in 1994 28.

For instance, there were 250 registered cases of bribery alone in Poland in 1992, which represented an 80% increase over 1991 - see A. Sabbat-Swidlicka, 'The Legacy of Poland's "Solidarity" Governments', RFE-RL Daily Report, 27 October 1993. In addition to corruption in the Poznan police force referred to in fn. 7, the biggest scandal related to FOZZ, the Foreign Debt Service Fund established towards the end of the communist era (in February 1989). Although this was abolished at the end of 1991, the corruption investigation lasted well into the early- 1990s.

Personal communication to the author from the Ministry, Warsaw, 24 February 1997. This extraordinarily low figure conflicts with the data provided in 'Fair to Middling', Warsaw Voice, 25 May 1997. According to that source, 36 corruption cases against police officers alone were tried in Polish courts in 1996, three quarters of which (i.e. c. 27) resulted in convictions. More generally, according to the same source, 326 cases of public officials accepting bribes were tried during the same year in Polish courts, resulting in 70 guilty verdicts (i.e. c. 21%). Pure intuition suggests to this author that these higher figures are either more accurate than the ones provided to him by the Ministry or that the latter refer only to cases resulting in imprisonment (it is hoped to be able to clarify this during my next visit to Warsaw). Even so, the higher figures are also very low, relative to public perceptions of the levels of corruption.