Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Poles to weave Webb into tangled finale

HOWARD WEBB probably doesn't look back on last year's European Championships with too many fond memories.

The English whistler was demonised by millions of Poles after awarding a controversial stoppage-time penalty for a shirt-pull on an Austrian player in the tournament's opening game, which finished 1-1 and ultimately killed off Poland's quarter-final hopes.

The Poles were unforgiving, with prime minister Donald Tusk admitting he wanted to kill Webb. One headline in the tabloids called him "an English thief" while there were even reports of death threats.

However, Mr Webb could be on the verge of an amazing reconciliation as he has reportedly been asked to ref this year's Polish Cup final.

The news has generated plenty of publicity for Poland's cup competition, which has seen dwindling attendances over the years. The head of the company which sponsors the cup admitted that "time heals wounds and this is a good time for a reconciliation".

But it's not just about gaining publicity. Poland has had a major problem with corruption and match-fixing over the years and a current probe has led to 192 arrests of referees, players, coaches and club officials. Hence the desire to get a big, respected name for the final.

England's top ref might want to give this one the red card.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pawlak reprimanded, Senator Misiak dismissed; The Misiak and Pawlak corruption saga continues

Prime Minister Donald Tusk publicly announced yesterday that Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak has violated political standards by establishing a business-social arrangement around himself. However, since he is not a member of Civic Platform (PO) he will not be punished. The PM was more harsh concerning the future of Senator Tomasz Misiak, who is accused of a conflict of interest, and declared that the politician will be dismissed from the party.

“I needed some time. I avoid trivial comments. People expect decisions, not comments from the Prime Minister,” declared Tusk, explaining why it took time before he announced his stance on the issues.

The coalition will not be effected by this incident. “Although [the coalition] is not nice and easy, there is no possibility of constructing anything else,” added the PM. PO politicians pointed out that the Senator had technically not broken any laws, but had broken PO's ethical standards.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Corruption trial around power plant insurance policy

Former MP, Aleskandra Jakubowska, of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), has been accused of taking over a million zloty (220,000 euro) in bribes in connection to insurance for the PGE Elektrownia Opole, a coal-based power station in southern Poland.

The former politicians husband, Maciej, has also been accused of accepting around 500,000 zloty (110,000 euro) in bribes.

The couple was to receive the money from the power station’s insurance firm in 2002 as they brokered a 10 million zloty (2.2 million euro) insurance deal with the company. The ‘brokering fee’ for the deal was to be 20 percent of the total insurance policy – half of the sum was to be funneled straight into Jakubowska’s bank account.

The power plant was originally insured by a smaller company – Heros – whose director, Stanislawa Ch., left and took the insurance policy with him to PZU S.A., Poland’s largest insurance company. Jakubowska supported Stanislawa Ch.’s move and was to allegedly receive payment in return for supporting her candidacy to the position as head of the Opole division of PZU.

Jakobowska faces 12 years in prison. Eighteen people related to the corruption case await trial, including Stanislawa Ch.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Poland's economy minister, Waldemar Pawlak, has been questioned over his family's business ties

Last week Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak came under fire in the media after accusations of nepotism and possible conflicts of interest arose. It came to light that companies which have won public tenders to service Voluntary Fire Service units are headed by the minister’s relatives. Pawlak himself is the president of the Association of Voluntary Fire Service in Poland.

Dziennik reported that the Internet Institute of Information 3i, an internet service provider whose primary clients are Voluntary Fire Service units, has been headed for five years by Pawlak’s spouse. The economy minister does not currently have a financial stake in this or other companies connected with the fire service, having in the past donated his shares to Partnerstwo dla Rozwoju, a foundation supporting the development of rural areas in Poland.

However, it turns out that this foundation is headed by Pawlak’s mother. Reporters pointed this out as another example of nepotism.

Pawlak called a press conference on Thursday. “All of my activities, either public or business, are transparent and legitimate,” he replied angrily to reporters’ queries. But he was reluctant to answer detailed questions.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he was satisfied with Pawlak’s explanations. “In the future we need to avoid these kind of [business] relationships, because they are not of high standards,” said Zbigniew Chlebowski, head of PO’s parliamentary club.

This is not the first time that PO’s coalition partner has been accused of nepotistic practices. Last year the media revealed that relatives of PSL politicians were employed at various Agriculture Market Agency (ARR) branches.

For example, the former head of the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund, PSL member Roman Kwasnicki, was harshly criticized when it was reported that he employed a close female friend, her brother and the brother’s wife at his agency. Reporters also proved that it is possible to get a job at the ARR office in Bydgoszcz by simply calling and claiming to be friends with a PSL politician.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bankrupt Polish sub-contractor causes Lenovo headaches

Lenovo's investment in a computer assembly plant in Legnickie Pole is under question following the bankruptcy of the sub-contractor building the factory – Immo Industry Group. In an official statement the IT giant declared, “Due to the new situation which Lenovo Poland is facing, the company must consider existing alternatives. Lenovo Poland will make an announcement about further steps at the relevant time.”

“An inter-departmental team for supporting foreign investments approved a new support proposal, prepared at the request of the investor. We shall deliver it to the Cabinet. We are in contact with authorities of the firm,” said Deputy Economy Minister Rafal Baniak.

According to Puls Biznesu sources, the Chinese firm might receive a higher subsidy but, “We proposed alternative locations in Lubuskie and Pomorskie ... In the first location, actual production could commence in four months, while in the second one [it could start in] six months,” said Slawomir Majman, deputy president of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency. He went on to say that the investor's decision is expected in 10 days.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Panaji: Polish Hitman’s Past Intrigues Goa Police

An international criminal, a Poland national named Adam Pyotr Mancic’s visit to Attari village near Wagah border in Punjab state with Pakistan has raised eye brows of the personnel in the Goa police department.

The 41 year old Polish was apprehended in the coastal village of Morjim here, after a red corner notice was issued against him by the Interpol.

“We do not know why he went to that village as yet, as he is not prepared to talk to us in the absence of Polish embassy officials,” a senior Goa police officer said.

The hit man, who is currently in police custody, was hiding in Goa after killing a prominent builder Freidhelm Lodenkaamp in Berlin on November 3, 2008.

Goa officials said that Mancic was paid 25,000 euros to kill the builder. He had already landed in India when the Interpol issued a red corner notice against him.

Mancic shot Lodenkaamp thrice with expertly placed shots, using a 9 mm Bertha pistol, when the victim was walking his dog in the evening.

“Two shots were aimed at the head and one at the chest,” a Crime Branch official revealed.

The state police are also baffled with the fact that Mancic managed to change three guest houses in Goa during his stay, without being noticed by the police.

The mandatory `C’ form, which needs to got filled by the guest house owners from the foreigner guests, was not filled by Mancic. The police now intend to crack down on those guest houses which ignored the mandatory ‘C’ form rule.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Foreign investors flee Poland

Foreign investors are leaving Poland: in 2008, the bond market lost 20 billion zloty (over 5 billion euro) – a record sum.

Foreign investors, including investment banks, insurance firms, and investment funds, started to sell their bonds last October, as a reaction to the financial crisis breaking out in the United States.

“Foreign investors began to doubt in the stability of countries in this part of Europe,” claims Andrzej Bratkowski, former deputy head of the National Bank of Poland.

In October alone, Poland’s bond market lost 7 billion zloty (almost 2 billion euro) worth of foreign capital. The end of 2008 saw losses in foreign capital to the tune of 19.2 billion zloty.

Bratkowski added that these losses also greatly affect the stability of the zloty and account for, in part, why the exchange rate has been so volatile since the start of the year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pedophile TV psychologist dead

Well-known psychologist and convicted pedophile Andrzej Samson died on Sunday in Czestochowa, southern Poland.

Samson was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2004 for the sexual abuse of children, though he later secured early release in January 2009 on health grounds.

Samson had great success as a family psychologist and psychotherapist and regularly appeared on TV. His books became a canon of knowledge on children’s psychological development for many psychologist as well as for parents.

In 2004 DVDs and pornographic pictures of children were found in Samson’s flat. Samson argued that this material was a form of “therapy of autistic children” and not for his gratification.

After the case became public, other victims, including two little girls, reported being sexual abused by Samson.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Poland to create Orwellian centralized database?

In two year’s time a centralized data base will be created in Poland, with information about each Pole gathered from ministries, telecommunications and energy providers.

By 2011 a super database will collate information on how much Poles earn, what taxes they pay, are they insured, do they have criminal record and much more besides.

The Central Statistical Office will collect the data from ministries of finance, justice, interior and administration, as well as from the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS), the National Health Fund (NFZ) and even the Polish National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People (PFRON).

According to initial plans, the statistical office is also to ask for information from local governments and even telecommunications and energy providers.

The construction of the database will help collate information which will form part of the new census which is to be taken in 2011. The census will be especially intrusive, say critics, with questions not just on age, education and employment but also on religious affiliation and even whether couples plan to have children in the future.

“These are practices from Orwell’s novels,” says Professor Michal Kulesza, while Adam Bodnar of the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights is concerned that the database could easily be abused by governments.

IT experts point say that large databases can be threatened by hacker attack and/or leaks.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Drunk man squirts acid in baby’s face, Gdansk

A man threw acid at a nine-month old baby, its parents and another man on a tram in Gdansk, on Friday.

A man, Andrzej S,, was having an argument with the baby's father when he suddenly produced a syringe filled with sulfuric acid.

"The victims were burned on their faces and on their hands. The burns are first and second degree,” said a spokesperson adding that at least one person has already left the hospital.

The fight took place on Friday, but the police only informed the media about the incident Monday.

Thirty eight year old Andrzej S., who was very drunk say police, ran away after throwing the acid but was caught 20 minutes later. Police say the attack was clearly premeditated.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Poles exploited in Sicily?

The Polish Embassy in Sicily has been informed of another case of Polish workers being exploited by ruthless employers.

Gerard Pokruszynski at the consulate told the PAP news agency that four Polish citizens had escaped a place they called “labour camp,” asking him for help.

According to preliminary findings by the Embassy, around 200 Poles had been lured to Sicily by an advertisement published in a newspaper. After 3 months, it turned out that the workers had yet to receive any money for work performed.

The complaint by the Poles comes on the heal of several other incidences of exploitative practices by Italian employers.

In 2005. a 116 strong workforce was enrolled in Poland and transported to Italy, where workers were charged for the trip and deprived of all their money and passports. The Poles were forced to work long hours - 5 am to 10 pm - without any breaks and had to live under dreadful conditions. They had no running water, electricity and were given no food except for water and bread.

In 2006, Polish police launched a special operation, code named “Promised Land” (Ziemia Obiecana) – which infiltrated and shut down the organized gang responsible.

Friday, March 20, 2009

UEFA to finally crackdown on Poland’s corrupt football?

UEFA has sent a letter to Poland’s football association (PZPN) demanding details of the ongoing investigation into widespread corruption within the Polish game.

UEFA wants to receive a list of referees arrested since the investigation started back in 2005, information on charges levelled against them and a report by PZPN on its actions in connection with the scandal.

Officially no threats have been made against PZPN but one possible sanction in UEFA’s power is to impose a supervisor to oversee the investigation.

Up until now UEFA has appeared to trust PZPN to conduct the investigation unsupervised. When the Polish government stepped in last year and suspended the football associations board of governors, the European body threatened action against Warsaw - including suspension from international competition - complaining that sports associations must be independent of political pressure.

Critics said at the time that EUFA appeared to endorse PZPN’s lack of tough action over the corruption investigation and was hindering the government in its efforts to cleanse the association of sleaze.

Since then more arrests have followed, bringing a total of around 170 arrests of referees, managers and players at all levels of the game into custody. Last week a former coach of one of Poland’s biggest clubs, Wisla Krakow, was arrested, accused of match fixing.

But out of concern for its own image and in the light of Poland being given the right to co-host the EURO 2012 a sense of urgency has finally entered into UEFA’s actions.

Officials are already feeling a cold wind being blown from UEFA as not a single Polish referee is to officiate at matches in the European Champions League this year.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Exeter rapist's sentence upheld

A Polish court has upheld a sentence given to a man convicted of a brutal rape in Exeter.

Execter Crown Court found Jakub Tomczak, 24, guilty of rape and causing grievous bodily harm. The attack was in July 2006.

In January 2008 he was given two life sentences to be served in Poland.

Poland's Supreme Court agreed that Tomczak should serve a minimum of nine years before being considered for parole.

Brain damage

Under Polish law all cases involving Polish nationals convicted abroad are reconsidered by a Polish court once they are repatriated.

Tomczak's 48-year-old victim was found naked and unconscious in Redlands Close in the Whipton area of Exeter.

She had suffered a skull fracture and brain damage in the attack and her injuries were so severe she was left with no memory of what had happened.

Mr Tomczak, a law student, had been on a night out in the city, and his movements were tracked by CCTV camera.

After the attack, he returned to Poland where, four months later, he voluntarily gave a DNA sample to local police at the request of UK officers.

The sample was analysed in the UK, where it matched the DNA profile taken from semen found on the victim.

Mr Tomczak was brought back to the UK to face trial under a European arrest warrant, before being repatriated to Poland after his conviction.

He had denied the attack, saying he had gone home after becoming separated from friends.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Polish police hold priest, MD in child porn raids

Polish police say they have detained 78 people — including a priest and a doctor — suspected of possessing child pornography and spreading it on the Internet.

Poland's national police say they confiscated 116 computers, 5,400 CDs and DVDs, 19 USB drives, more than 100 videocassettes and other materials in early morning raids in 91 homes and offices across Poland.

The police said Wednesday that 10 people have been charged so far for possessing and distributing child pornography on the Web. Authorities are still questioning the remaining people in custody.

If convicted of spreading child pornography, the suspects face up to 8 years in prison.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poland scores low marks on US report on human rights

Human rights reports details shortcomings of the Polish law enforcement system.

The Unites States has released its annual human rights report. The document declares, "The [Polish] government generally respects the human rights of its citizens; however, prison conditions remain poor and overcrowded; lengthy pre-trial detention, misconduct and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials remained problems.

The judicial system was inefficient and continued to function poorly. Occasional anti-Semitic violence and harassment also were problems. Corruption remained a problem throughout the government and society".

Monday, March 16, 2009

UEFA investigates scale of corruption in Polish football

The European soccer body is demanding an explanation related to the corruption in Polish leagues
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) sent a letter in February to the authorities of the Polish Football Association (PZPN) demanding an immediate explanation related to the corruption in Polish leagues.

UEFA is becoming increasingly irritated with the news coming from the media related to the scale of the wrongdoings and is demanding a list of detained referees, the charges they are facing as well as a report of the actions which PZPN is planning to undertake.

Although no official threat was included in the letter, unofficially UEFA is considering imposing a supervisor from the European watchdog onto PZPN. UEFA has also already decided that no Polish referee will participate in any game in this round of the European championships. Further consequences can be more painful, and can even lead to the suspension of PZPN authorities.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The legal system and profession are not well loved in Poland

Only 14 percent of Poles have engaged the services of a lawyer over the past five years, according to a nationwide TNS OBOP survey published last week by the National Council of Legal Advisers.

Entrepreneurs constituted the largest group of clients (36 percent), followed by farmers (29 percent). Assistance in civil or criminal proceedings comprised nearly half of all legal services provided (49 percent), followed by those seeking legal counsel (38 percent).

The vast majority of those who said they had not employed legal services over the last five years said they had had no need. Only one percent of those polled said legal services were too expensive.

“This shows that people tend to go to a lawyer when they have a knife at their throats,” according to professor Janusz Czapi?ski, a sociologist.

Furthermore, Czapizski said decreased interest in legal services stemmed from the common conviction the that Polish legal system suffered from major problems. For instance, 67 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the justice system in Poland favored criminals and persecuted victims, while only 14 percent disagreed with that statement. Also, 70 percent of respondents agreed that lawyers put their own profit ahead of the client’s welfare.

Public opinion of lawyers was more equally divided, with 31 percent having a positive impression, 30 percent negative and the rest having no opinion.

The majority of people with negative opinions said lawyers were greedy (46 percent), while most people with positive opinions said that they were competent (66 percent).

Poland ranks 15th in the European Union in terms of citizens having access to lawyers, with one lawyer per 1,116 people. Poland has 34,181 lawyers, according to figures provided by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Buddy, can you spare a grosz?

Solutions put forward to stave off the worst of the global financial meltdown - now knocking angrily at the door in Poland, like some aggressive and impatient Repo Man - have split into good old fashioned rightwing and leftwing remedies. But are they all missing the point?

The deliciously named Moody ratings agency alarmed everyone last week when they published a rather moody warning that they might downgrade credit ratings of Western banks active in central and eastern Europe (CEE). Austrian banks are particularly heavily exposed after lending the region 230 billion euros, the equivalent of 70 percent of Austria’s annual GDP. If the banks went tits up in this region they could take down many of their parent banks in the West. As manager of Manchester United, Alex Ferguson once said: “It‘s squeaky bum time,” for bankers everywhere.

The zloty has sunk against major currencies over recent weeks faster than a man with a skyscraper-load of concrete in his boots. The majority of mortgages in Poland, as elsewhere in the CEE are taken out in foreign currencies. Our flat is on a euro mortgage and repayments have risen by 15 percent since last November. The majority took their loan out in Swiss francs, a plan that now looks like it had more holes in it than Emmental cheese.

After initially seeming to be getting away with it, many central and eastern European countries are now forming an orderly queue outside the doors of the World’s bank manager, the IMF, for help. Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus… There is a plan on hold for Poland, if needed.

Each month macro economic analysts sit down and key new data into computer models, press ‘send’ and watch as the screen flickers up yet another GDP growth prediction that is even more gloomy than last month’s. The government thinks maybe 2.5 percent for 2009; the World Bank this week said two percent, most independent analysts are even more moody: one percent, maybe no percent.

CEE countries inside the EU who are in the Euro Zone - Slovenia, Slovakia… - are best placed to see out the recession. Those in the EU but outside of the Euro Zone - Poland, most of them - will have a harder time but should get some protection from Brussels. Those in the CEE but outside the EU, however, appear stuffed.

The government in Warsaw looks as shocked as everyone, these days, at the pace of it all. One minister said this week that they had tried to play things down initially, because they “didn’t want to worry people.” But now the government has scrambled a package together to try and steady the ship, a bit.

Prime Minister Tusk said that if the zloty falls to 5 to the euro then his government would intervene. The day after, when the zloty didn’t fall quite that low, the finance ministry started selling euros anyway.

The pro-EU Civic Platform government have emphasised that getting into the ERM-2 mechanism as quickly as possible would help protect the zloty from such instability (although it didn’t help the pound much in the early 1990s). May or June seems to the target date.

The government has a four point strategy, apparently - bills on bank bailouts, on equity for national trading bank Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, on credit guarantees for businesses, and on tax relief for direct investors.

“I‘m no Obama”

But Donald Tusk warned that there would be “no massive injections” of cash into the economy. Tusk said that he was “No Obama” - as if people hadn’t actually noticed this before.

And here politicians in Poland are falling into two camps, much like the old left and right days. On the right, Donald Tusk - but in the left hand corner is Jaroslaw Kaczynski, calling for a programme of public works - a la Maynard Keynes - to protect jobs and stimulate the economy.

It’s no surprise Kaczynski is on the state borrowing and spending side of the equation. For all the emphasis on his social conservatism, he and Law and Justice have always been left on the economic front. Law and Justice, the conservative-socialists!

The World Bank report was actually much less gloomy than most. It said Poland would ride out the storm better than many in the region. But it’s still going to be rough, though not the Great Depression. There are no precedents to this. It’s something new.

And that makes me think that all the bailouts and other sticking plasters aren’t really coming to terms with what is behind this: an over producing but under consuming south Asia, and an over consuming, under producing West. This is about fundamental imbalances. But nobody seems to have a plan about that.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Poles fear reckless driving and drunks

Poles are most afraid of reckless driving, according to research done by National Police Headquarters in January 2009.

Overall, Polish citizens are not a fearful nation. Seventy-seven percent of citizens are not afraid to walk alone at night, 60 percent do not avoid a particular location even if they feel unsafe and seventy percent are not afraid of petty crimes, including robbery.

“This is extremely important information,” stated Police Commander General Andrzej Matejuk. He added that reckless drivers will be treated harshly and police intend to make better use of video monitoring on roads.

Seventeen thousand Poles took place in the survey. Every fifth respondent fears vandals, drunks and drug addicts.

Results of the research show that Poles are becoming less fearful. Fifteen years ago, every second citizen was afraid to walk alone after dark, whereas now, only every fifth person expressed some fear at the idea.

More respondents than last year (18 percent) stated that they fear nothing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three years jail for IVF?

The “Contra In Vitro” Committee For Legislative Initiative is seeking 100,000 signatures to initiate a Project to change the civil code regarding the implementation of in vitro fertilization in Poland.

Head of the committee, Jacek Kotula, from Tyczyn in southeastern Poland, claims that the group aims to propose legislation before the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, after collecting enough signatures.

The Committee would like to amend Civil Code 160 to establish a law to the tune whoever engages in fertilization of an egg cell (fertilization by in vitro) outside of a mother’s body will face up to three years in prison. Article 160 that the group seeks to make law a prison sentence for endangering one’s life or for actions leading to the detriment the health.

As well, the group has proposed a law to imprison (for between five and 25 years) one who engages in embryonic stem cell research.

The “Contra In Vitro” Committee has declared that they are mounting a campaign to seek signatures all over Poland in order to initiate legislative in parliament on the issue. They have sought the aid of Catholic churches, asking priests to appeal for signatures during their sermons in mass.

“We are collecting signatures with the permission of the Bishop of Elk. For the past few days we have been collecting signatures and PESEL [identification] numbers,” states Father Jacek Uchan of the Elk parish, northeastern Poland.

The Catholic Church stands officially against in vitro fertilization and the Polish Federation of the Society of Catholic Families functions in Poland to uphold this stance.

Currently, Poland does not have established laws to address the specific issue of in vitro fertilization and the government, led by Civic Platform, has put together a bioethics committee to analyze the issue and propose legislation. The project is expected to regulate in vitro procedures including protecting the rights of an embryo, forbidding the sale of sperm and eggs, as well as banning the selection of eggs for fertilization.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brits protest against Polish companies

The local unemployed have mounted a demonstration against discrimination of British people by Polish companies located on the Isles. The demonstration took place in front of Grain Island Power Station at the mouth of Thames and Medway Rivers.

British trade union members are outraged by the fact that Polish companies are allegedly hiring exclusively Poles.

A few dozen people participated in the demonstration. The organizer, Unite trade union, claims that Polish companies reserved around 450 workplaces exclusively for Poles. Grain Island power station is owned by the German E.on company, whereas the French Alstom is the building contractor.

The spokesman for Alstom announced that the British companies could have participated in the bidding for subcontractors, but the Polish companies Remak and Robot Energy and Power Plant won the contract. Since no British people allegedly applied for work, Poles were hired.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Understatement of the young millennium: Poles wealthy but less trustworthy?

A CBOS poll has shown that three-quarters of Poles feel that their global position is better than ever before.

Seventy-five percent of respondents feel that Poland’s global position has increased this year. 70 percent of Poles feel that the state of the economy is better as well, despite the economic crisis.

“Those who think that they have profited from [Poland’s] transformation respond far more positively,” claims Rafal Bouszewski from CBOS.

However, the poll also shows that interpersonal relations between citizens has decidedly worsened. Only 19 percent of those polled feel that Poles are people of integrity, while forty-four percent feel just the opposite.

Additionally, 68 percent of respondents feel that the level of criminality in the country is high.

The poll took place in January 2009 on a representative sample of 1,089 adult Poles.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Corruption scandal at National Bank of Poland

Eight people, including an official of the National Bank of Poland, suspected of giving and receiving bribes in exchange for fixing tenders, have been arrested by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Among the detained is the head of the IT department of the National Bank of Poland (NBP) Jan L.

The Polish Press Agency informs that the suspicious tenders concerned the servicing and repairs of IT equipment in NBP. In exchange for tender fixing Jan L. allegedly received money companies in Wroclaw, western Poland.

Apart from Jan L. CBA has arrested the two owners of the company and five other people who acted as middlemen in the transfer of the bribes.

“The suspects owned up to the charges and gave comprehensive evidence,” said Malgorzata Klaus of the public prosecutors’ office in Wroclaw.

According to the prosecutors’, the corruption practice lasted for seven years between 2001 and 2008. The NBP official was to receive some 350,000 zlotys (some 72,000 euros) in bribes.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Polish paedophile ring detained

The police officers have searched 91 houses, flats and companies in the entire Poland and arrested 78 people suspected of dissemination of child pornography via the Internet.

The operation, code-named "Typhon" is part of an ongoing operation, say police, and more arrests could follow.

Ten people have been charged with downloading and spreading child pornography. Another ten alleged paedophiles will hear the charges today.

"The arrested people come from different social groups: there is an IT specialist, someone who works for ZUS, the national social insurer, a teacher, a miner, a retired soldier and a priest among them," said the police.

On Tuesday hundreds of police officers entered 91 houses in Poland. They secured servers, computers, portable discs and memory cards. A special unit from Austria, who were monitoring the web for illegal material picked up the trail of people who disseminated or gave access to child pornography in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

Dissemination and storing child pornography is subject to up to eight years prison sentence in Poland.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Surprise, Surprise: Poland is bad boy of new EU member states

A report by the European Commission says that Poland has 65 legal proceedings against it for breaking EU laws.

The figure puts Poland well ahead of fellow 2004 entrants and makes Warsaw the worst behaved of the 10 countries that joined the bloc four years ago.

Poland has broken EC rules on, among others, telecommunications law, VAT rates, public procurement of automated radar coastal surveillance equipment, patent law, emergency call centre rules and money laundering law.

Bulgaria is catching up fast, however, with 20 proceedings currently in process against it after joining the EU as late as 2007.

The infringements, concerned with creating single markets in the 27 nation bloc, are most often broken by Spain, Italy and Greece.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rokita detained and handcuffed in Munich

Former prominent member of the ruling Civic Platform party, Jan Rokita, was ordered to disembark a Lufthansa plane at Munich airport, Tuesday night, in handcuffs after flight attendants decided his rowdy behaviour was a threat to passenger safety.

Jan Rokita and and his wife Nelly, an MP for the opposition Law and Justice party, were on their way to their home town of Krakow, southern Poland. However, the politician got into an argument with a flight attendant, after she reportedly did not let Rokita’s wife place her coat on a free seat. When the crew asked him to leave the plane, he refused. Soon after, police arrived at the spot and he was made to leave the plane in handcuffs.

Rokita was taken to a nearby police station, where the colourful couple were detained till Wednesday morning.

According to Rokita, the German police officers used foul language while addressing him. His wife said he shouted, “Help! The Germans hit me!” while being detained.

However, German police and media present another version of the story, claiming that Rokita pushed the flight attendant and was rowdy on board the plane, which is against international law.

Nelly Rokita, when interviewed by journalists on Wednesday afternoon, said her husband – who was once tipped to be a future prime minister of Poland - is going to sue Lufthansa.

According to Nelly, this was a case of discrimination as her husband was treated worse than other passengers because he “looked like a foreigner”.

Joachim Brudzinski of the right- wing Law and Justice party has no doubt that Rokita is innocent and calls for Poland to unite around the politician.

The couple, helped out by consul, whom Nelly called an “angel,” clearly stated that they were not going to take any more Lufthansa flights in the future.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Zloty continues free fall

Poland’s currency, the zloty, continued to depreciate against major currencies, Monday, losing 4 percent against the euro.

The zloty finished trading to the euro at 4.85. Many analysts expect the currency to weaken further as nervousness grows at the amount of debt mortgaged household in Poland have with weakened western banks.

For example, 60 percent of mortgages are held not in the zloty but in the Swiss franc. Investors were not made any more confident from remarks by head of the National Bank of Poland Tuesday, who, in a report released yesterday, said that though the benefits of adopting the euro generally outweigh negatives, joining the ERM-2 – which would tie the zloty to a fifteen percent corridor to the euro for at least two years – was “too risky” in present conditions.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s cabinet will meet for an emergency session on the declining strength of the zloty, Tuesday, which is following other currencies in the region downward as western European investors balk at the fact that 84 percent of loans to Eastern Europe are held by vulnerable banks in Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. Austria, alone, has lent 230 billion euros to the region, which is around 70 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Tuesday morning the zloty was trading to the euro at 4.7687 and to the Swiss franc at 3.1967.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Yet another cigarette smuggler detained

The Silesian Border Guard have found about 21,000 packets of cigarettes in the car of a man from Bielsko- Biala, southern Poland.

The 36 year old was detained after the border guards stopped his car for a routine check. His car turned out to be carrying cigarettes worth up to 120,000 zlotys (25,865 euros).

While checking the man’s flat in a follow up investigation, officers came across a complete alcohol bottling line, as well as 2,600 litres of illegal spirits and forged Polish and Czech excise bands.

“This is the biggest case of trafficking in Silesia this year,” said the spokesman for the Silesian Border Guard, Cezary Zaborski.

The man has been charged with trying to avoid paying excise taxes.

Last year the Silesian Border Guard in Zabnze seized illegal alcohol and cigarettes, worth about 4 million zloty (838,803 euros)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Polish helicopter crashes while on rescue mission

A helicopter from the Airport Rescue Service in Wroclaw, southwestern Poland, has crashed on Highway A-4 on its way to a crash site – two people were killed immediately and several more injured.

The helicopter, flying to the scene of an accident on the highway that included nine personal vehicles, heavy goods vehicles and buses, crashed before reaching the scene due to extreme weather conditions, including snowfall and heavy fog.

Krzysztof Gielska of the local fire services told Polish Radio Wroclaw that they have contact with one of the doctors who was in the helicopter the describes some of the injuries as “severe”.

One of the doctors in the helicopter crash was able to telephone the Europe-wide emergency 112 number which has allowed rescue services to pinpoint the location of the crashed helicopter.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Rising Polish suicides in UK

According to Poland’s Deputy Consul in Manchester, suicides committed in north England and Wales constitute one third of Polish deaths in Great Britain.

The rate is even higher in southern England, where industry is less developed and there are fewer job opportunities for unskilled or semi-skilled Poles.

The case of 22-year-old Pawal Lipinski, who killed himself last year in Bradford, northern England, is one of a growing trend of suicides, says the organization.

Psychologists say loneliness, lack of money and shame of not getting a proper job or not making enough money are to blame for an increasing amount of Poles feeling trapped in the UK with no prospects.

In the UK, men born between 1978 and 1984 are most likely to take their own lives.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Jagiellonia Bialystok relegated for corruption!

Polish Ekstraklasa side Jagiellonia Bialystok has been relegated as the result of the investigation into the match fixing scandal in Polish football.

Dropping down
Members of the Polish FA discipline committee have ruled that Jagiellonia is guilty of committing five acts of corruption in the years 2004-2005. As a result, Jagiellonia is to be relegated from the Polish top flight from the start of the next season. If Jagiellonia finishes at the end of the season above the drop zone they will be relegated to the Orange Liga. However, if 'Jaga' will end the season in the relegation zone they will find them selves next season in the Polish Second League.

More to come?
News of the relegation have been a shock for both players and fans throughout the country, few were expecting this kind of news at this point. It is difficult to say if there is more to come, but teams like Cracovia, PGE GKS Belchatow and KKS Lech Poznan are said to be also involved. It is yet not known what will be the next decision of the Polish FA discipline committee.