Friday, March 16, 2007

Poland's ex-president Kwasniewski and ex-PM Miller accused of corruption

Poland's former president Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former Prime Minister Leszek Miller and other prominent left-wing politicians were involved in large-scale corruption in connection with the privatization process in Poland, claims a lobbyist under arrest on charges of corruption.

Marek Dochnal, three years ago one of the most influential lobbyists in Poland, for the past two and a half years under arrest on charges of large scale corruption, has testified that Poland's most prominent left-wing politicians accepted huge bribes back when they were in power.

Among others, Dochnal names as guillty of corruption Poland's former president, Aleksander Kwaśniewski and former Prime Minister, Leszek Miller, both of Poland's previous post-communist government.

According to Marek Dochnal's recent testimonies, he himself acted as an intermediary in corruption transactions between the then Poland's top politicians and foreign companies that wanted to buy major Polish state-owned companies at stunningly low prices.

Investigative journalist Leszek Szymowski sums up the recent media revelations:

'Many Polish politicians, including ex- president and ex- prime minister took money from Marek Dochnal's customers. They had bank accounts in Switzerland. The reason of this whole affair, in my opinion, was to buy national Polish companies almost for free.'

Among other things, Dochnal was to hand in a 3 million dollar bribe to the then Prime Minister Leszek Miller for his assistance in the sale of Polish steel plants. Dochnal has also revealed, that former president Aleksander Kwaśniewski was sponsored by two German businessmen and the most prominent left-wing politicians of the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance party, including Marek Siwiec, Jacek Piechota, Marek Ungier and ex- president Aleksander Kwasniewski had secret bank accounts in Switzerland.

All this exposes the criminal circumstances in which privatization was carried out in Poland under the post-communist government of Democratic Left Alliance, says investigative journalist Leszek Szymowski:

'The scandal with Marek Dochnal shows the pathologies of privatization in Poland. A foreign corporation that wanted to buy a national Polish company preferred to hire a private lobbing company, that made possible to buy it almost for free. Marek Dochnal helped to do it, because he corrupted many Polish clerks. One of them was Andrzej Pęczak, a deputy to the Polish parliament. Pęczak was arrested when prosecutors proved that he took money and a luxurious car from Dochnal.'

According to Dochnal, one of the persons involved in the illegal business transactions of Poland's left-wing government politicians was Peter Vogel, known also as Piotr Filipczyński. Back in 1971, 17-year old Vogel was sentenced to jail for burglary and gruesome murder of an elderly woman. He was paroled in 1979 and four years later, at the request of Poland's communist secret services, of which Vogel's father was a collaborator, he received a passport and was allowed to leave Poland. In the 1990s Vogel worked for western telephone companies. Although an arrest warrant was issued for him in 1987, he often traveled to Poland freely. In 1999 he was arrested in Switzerland an extradited to Poland. The very same year, Vogel was pardoned by the then Polish president, Aleksander Kwaśniewski. The prosecutor's office is investigating the circumstances of that pardon.

Today's prominent left-wing politicians of the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance party deny the accusations spelled out by Marek Dochnal. Jerzy Szmajdziński:

'Nobody has the right to accuse other people without basis for it.'

The ruling Law and Justice party wants the suspicious connections of the previous post-communist government with the world of illegal business and corruption brought to light before the public opinion. MP Jędrzej Jędrych of the ruling Law and Justice party:

'Citizens should be aware of what is happening behind the scenes of decision making, who is working and helping there.'

If the Democratic Left Alliance politicians do not explain the situation convincingly, the ruling Law and Justice party is considering establishing a special parliamentary commission to investigate the criminal allegations against the former post-communist government.