Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Polish Bank Asks Its Managers To Disclose Links to Secret Police

PKO Bank Polski SA became the first of Poland's biggest companies to ask its managers to declare whether they worked for the secret police during the rule of communism, part of the conservative government's attempt to expose former spies.

Slawomir Skrzypek, who was named by the Treasury Ministry as PKO's interim chief executive officer September 29, asked as many as 900 managers to disclose any cooperation with the secret services between 1944 and 1990, a PKO spokesman, Marek Klucinski, said.

The Warsaw-based bank is trying to ensure decision-makers "are not subject of any pressure that could influence their job," Mr. Klucinski said in an interview yesterday. The declaration on whether they spied is voluntary, he said. While it's been 17 years since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, countries are still trying to come to terms with the past and the number of citizens who informed the authorities about colleagues and even family members. The year-old Polish government has now taken that a step further by trying to vet the managers of state-owned companies like PKO. It's extending existing legislation to include the press also. Anybody accused of cooperating with the communist secret services could be fired, according to the bill. So far, only people in public office needed to make a declaration. The information, often-mundane facts about visitors or conversations, could be used to end a career or result in imprisonment.