Thursday, April 30, 2009

Polish police nab gang spreading fake euros across EU

Polish police have broken up a criminal gang that spread forged 50 and 100 euro banknotes across the European Union, notably in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, authorities said Wednesday.

The criminal ring is suspected of having put tens of thousands of fake euros into circulation across the 27-nation bloc.

A total of 32 suspects were detained in the operation, which was conducted after a year-long probe hand in hand with Europol, the EU's police agency.

"Police took advantage of the Easter holidays to prepare for and carry out the arrests," national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told AFP.

Sokolowski said that the head of the gang, whom he identified only as Radoslaw B., 29, came from Poland but also had an address in Italy.

The vast majority of those arrested were Polish citizens, but a Romanian woman was also detained, prosecutor Beata Syk-Jankowska told AFP.

Most have already been charged and have admitted their guilt. They risk up to 10 years in prison.

Twenty-five of the suspects were snared in their homes during simultaneous raids in 30 locations in Poland's eastern Lublin province Tuesday. The dragnet involved 300 police officers and members of the national anti-terrorist squad.

Two other individuals turned themselves in, five were detained earlier, and more arrests are in the cards, Syk-Jankowska said.

"The gang members, particularly those in their twenties, travelled abroad and met with other members of the network who gave them forged notes," she explained.

"They used these notes in shops and then brought the change they received back to the gang leaders, in return for a payment," she added.

Sokolowski said that police had not yet located the print-shop where the forged euros were turned out.

"We're working on that. It's outside Poland, in another EU member state," he said, refusing to elaborate because the probe was still under way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marijuana plantation closed down near Szczecin

Eight hundred marijuana plants have been discovered on a professional plantation In Western Pomerania, near Szczecin – police arrested the plantation owner and narcotics distributor.

This is the fourth liquidation of such narcotics plantations in the northwestern region of Poland this year.

The plantation was found underground in a potato cellar, lit with artificial lighting, accompanied by an extensive irrigation and ventilation system.

In total, police in the area have liquidated four similar plantations, arrested seven people and seized almost half a million bushes of Indian cannabis in a anti-narcotics operation in the region.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Polish police hold four in football corruption probe

Polish police detained four people, including two former players and a referee, in connection with an ongoing investigation into corruption in Polish football.

In detentions were made in four different cities on Wednesday, with police only identifying the individuals as referee Mariusz P., match observer Piotr K., former Wisla Krakow goalkeeper Artur S. and another former Wisla player Grzegorz K.

The suspects' full names were not released in line with Poland's privacy regulations, but the only former Wisla keeper with such a name is Artur Sarnat.

All four suspects were being driven to Wroclaw in southwestern Poland, where they would be questioned and charges could be filed, Wroclaw prosecutor Jerzy Kasiura said.

Wroclaw prosecutors launched an investigation in 2005 into corruption in Polish football.

So far they have detained some 200 people suspected of fixing matches. Among them are members of the Polish Football Federation, coaches, referees and players.

Earlier this month, a court in Wroclaw handed prison terms of up to four years to 17 people, including club officials and referees in the largest corruption trial in the history of Polish football.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dyngus Day fraud reported

Police in LaPorte suspect a man celebrating Dyngus Day stole a bank card to purchase more alcohol.

According to LaPorte police, a woman was alerted Monday night by her bank that her account was just fraudulently tapped into.

The bank caught the transaction at Bottle Shop at Ind. 2 and Andrew Avenue for two cases of beer and bottle of hard liquor.

Police said a surveillance tape from the store shows the stolen card was used by a man the woman recognized as a former co-worker.

The woman told police she also had seen the man at one of the local bars participating in the Dyngus Day festivities.

Dyngus Day is a Polish holiday originally intended to celebrate with food and drink the end of lent, a time of fasting.

No arrest was made but the case is still being investigated, police said.
Note: Do you doubt it was a Polak?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Former MP to pay half a million fine

Piotr Misztal, a former Self Defence deputy, has been sentenced to two years probation and fined half a million zlotys (230,000 euro) for tax fraud.

Misztal suggested the punishment himself to escape a more severe verdict by the court in Krakow.

The former Self Defence MP was accused of tax fraud to the amount of over 1,5 million zlotys (350,000 euro) to the detriment of the State Treasury.

He denied the accusations but agreed to be punished because, “sometimes the cost of proving innocence is too high”, he said.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Krakow wanted to charge Misztal two years ago, but he had left for the US. The office issued an arrest warrant for him but he failed to show up and returned to Poland only in April 2008 after he had received a writ of immunity.

Misztal was the richest MP in the previous parliament, famous for his extravagance. After a few months in parliament, he left Self-Defence party.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Polish police arrest 48 in child pornography raids

Polish police have arrested 48 people suspected of distributing child pornography over the Internet after early morning raids around Poland, police said on Tuesday.

During the Monday raids at private homes, corporate offices and Internet cafes police also confiscated 92 computers, 43 hard drives and several thousand CDs and DVDs with suspected child pornography, which included pictures of children and animals.

Police said the arrested men included priests, pensioners, students and businessmen.

"There are also teachers, who should be expected to treat kids with care, but according to our evidence they were trying to take advantage of them," said a police spokesman in the southern city of Katowice, where some of the arrests took place.

The raids were coordinated with Interpol, which provided information to locate the suspects.

If convicted, they face prison sentences of up to eight years.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Polish rapist hiding in Ireland?

British and Irish police believe a Polish man, on the run after being accused of taking part In brutal gang rapes 12 years ago, is in hiding in the Irish Republic.

Police have released the photograph of Dawid Wysocki – also known as Andrzej Wysocki or Arthur Bryewiczis – and appealed to the general public for any information on the man’s whereabouts.

Wysocki went on the run after being bailed at the Old Bailey court in London in 1996, after a 17 year old prostitute was taken to a flat in North London, imprisoned and raped by four men, one of which, she told police when she escaped, was the Pole. Two other men were imprisoned for the attack.

Police say that Wysocki maybe in hiding among the large Polish community in the Portlaoise area, central Ireland on the road from Dublin to Cork.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Foreigners pay Poles for marriage

Up to one in four of the 9,000 marriages between foreigners and Polish citizens every year could be bogus.

In America and the UK it is common to see dubious adverts from foreigners looking for that special someone – in reality they are looking for citizenship, not love. But Poland has become a target for people from outside the EU looking to migrate from poorer regions of the world but denied entry because of strict immigration controls.

“Registrars in Poland are helpless. They can’t refuse to marry anyone, even if they suspect a fraud,” explains Malgorzata Pyziak-Szafnicka from the University in Lodz, quoted in Rzeczpospolita.

For a bogus marriage, a Pole can demand between 15,000 and 20,000 zlotys (3,350-4,500 euros). Most foreigners who are ready to pay for such ‘services’ come from Asian countries and the former USSR region.

Rzeczpospolita gives the example of Olga M, a 27 year old Ukrainian who married 72 year old Aleksander J.. A divorce pertition was made after only two months, pointing to the failure to sexually consummate the marriage. Aleleksander, however, died before the divorce could come through.

The price Poles can demand has risen in recent years as Poland is an attractive country for these sorts of marriages, particularly since the country joined the Schengen Zone, which means free movement for non-EU born citizens.

The arrangement, however, can backfire, especially when the ‘spouse’ takes off out of the country without first getting a divorce.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pole faces jail for stealing toilet paper

Polish police arrested a 26-year-old man for stealing a toilet paper roll from a Warsaw restaurant, a crime that could cost him 10 years in jail.

The man, identified only as Edvin L., stole the paper roll worth 66 cents but in taking it he broke the box holding the roll, making the total damage $105, the Polish daily Dziennik said. Police were called by a restaurant manager who spotted the man hiding something under his jacket.

The daily said the man's theft was published on the Warsaw police Web site as one of their successful actions since January, adding his crime could lead to a prison sentence of 10 years.

In response to a Dziennik reporter's query, a woman in the Warsaw police headquarters explained it was a serious crime, which apart from stealing the paper roll, included the breaking of the box containing the roll, the newspaper said.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poland still hates cyclists: sees drunken cyclists as criminals

The Polish Constitutional Court has ruled drunken bicyclists could be punished the same way as drunken motorists and not as intoxicated pedestrians.

Intoxicated car and motorbike drivers are sanctioned under a penal code that deals with criminal offenders and, as of now, so will drunken cyclists in Poland will be treated likewise, the Polish Web site said Tuesday.

For driving a bicycle, drunken Poles will face a fine and up to two years in jail, just as drunken motorists do, depending on their ability to "manage movement on land, in water or in air."

Drunken pedestrians are sanctioned under offensive statutes and face temporary police detention and fines.

Monday, April 20, 2009

14-years-old boy caught speeding at 170 km per hour

A 14-years-old boy has been caught by police on the motorway in the eastern region of Biala Podlaska driving Audi A3 at 170 km per hour.

He was accompanied by his mother who was sitting at the front. When the police stopped the car the mother came out and tried to convince them that it was her who drove the vehicle. When it turned out that the driver was her under-age son, she explained she wanted to teach him how to drive. She assured the police that “the situation was under control”.

The 49-years-old woman was fined with 300 zlotys ticket for giving her car to a person without driving license. She will also be sued by a family court for neglecting her duties as a parent, which results in two years of imprisonment.

If the court rules that she consciously exposed her son’s life to danger, she may spend up to 5 years in prison.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goalie plays despite police charges

Charges for domestic violence have not affected OB’s goalkeeper from continuing to play for the club

Odense Boldklub’s Polish goalkeeper Arek Onyszko is still the top man in front of the net for the team, despite the fact that he will be tried on charges of domestic violence.

Onyszko played on Monday evening, when OB defeated Randers FC 3-1. He was given a huge round of applause by the Odense crowd when he headed out onto the pitch at the start of the match.

Earlier this week, Onyszko was officially charged with assaulting his ex-wife, Anna. According to reports he dragged her by the hair and punched her.
The media have been silent on the issue of whether the goalkeeper should continue to play or be suspended until his court case is decided.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Poland raids suspected pedophiles' homes

Polish police said they arrested 68 people on suspicion they were involved in pedophilia-related crimes.

In a large-scale raid against people believed to be distributing pornographic pictures of children, police searched 61 homes and confiscated 76 personal computers, Polish Radio said Wednesday.

Karol Jakubowski, a head in the Polish Police Department said they also seized about 7,000 CDs, DVDs, diskettes, video cassettes and 19 hard discs.

Investigating judges are currently processing charges against the detained suspects.

If put on trial and found guilty, they are facing jail terms of up to eight years, the radio said.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dirty Polish Link

Costa Nhaominesu
THE controversial transfer of a Zimbabwean player to a Polish club — whose reputation was battered by its links to a match-fixing web that triggered its forced relegation from the top-flight league last season — has become a key part of investigations into doggy transfers on the domestic scene.

The investigation has already attracted the interest of world football governing body Fifa.

Four Zimbabwean players were all cleared to play in Poland on the same day, from the same local club, last year and their bloc transfer has become a big part of investigations involving suspected local ghost clubs.

One of the Polish clubs involved in the transfers had its reputation soiled when it was involved in a match-fixing scandal which forced football authorities in that country to forcibly relegate it from the top-flight league — the Ekstraklasa — last season.

All the four Zimbabwean players were transferred from DT Africa United — a local football franchise that turned into a ghost club after it withdrew from the Zifa Division Two league last year, without kicking a ball all season, citing international commitments.

DT Africa United were also behind the transfer of Zimbabwe international forward Clemence Matawu to Poland this year — a move that has sparked a storm amid revelations that it was plagued by gross irregularities.

The country’s football leadership has been asked to compile a dossier of international transfers, involving Zimbabwean players, so that Fifa can revisit all the transactions and establish whether there was serious breach of protocol in the deals.

There are serious concerns that some ghost clubs and agents could be taking advantage of Zimbabwean players — desperate for a move abroad — to short-change them through dubious deals where the players earn peanuts while the clubs pocket the lion’s share from the deals.

Four Zimbabwean players — Costa Nhaominesu, Patmore Shereni, Ndabenkulu Ncube and Clarence Foroma — were transferred in February last year from DT Africa United to clubs in Poland.

The 23-year-old Nhamoinesu, a gifted individual who impressed at Masvingo United, was the player with the biggest profile among the quartet whose International Transfer Certificates were issued on the same day in February last year.

The gangly left-sided midfielder’s contract with Masvingo United expired at the end of the domestic season in 2007 and he was immediately lured to the capital where he signed a deal with DT Africa United.

He did not play even a single game for the club — who did not kick a ball all season — and, just a month after joining them, he was on his way to Poland where he joined Zaglebie Lubin who had won the Polish championship the previous season.

Masvingo United, who played a big part in the player’s development and spent a fortune in giving him a platform to showcase his talent and attract the interest of the foreign clubs, did not get even a single cent in return for the investment.

Instead, DT Africa United, who signed him in the month that he left for Poland, appear to be the club who reaped huge benefits from his transfer.

Nhamoinesu, though, did not join a club that was in the top-flight league but one that had been forcibly relegated into League One following revelations that they had taken part in a match-fixing web that led to their promotion into the Ekstraklasa at the end of the 2004/2005 season.

Other Polish clubs — Wiezew Lodz, Arka Gdynia, Gornik Leczna, Gornik Polkowice, Jagiellonia Bialystoc, KSZO Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and Zaglebie — were also forced down a division by the country’s football authorities due to their involvement in this web of corruption.

They were also docked points as part of the punishment.

Seventeen people — including several referees and officials of the Polish Football Federation — received suspended prison sentences for their part in the scandal.

Nhamoinesu’s International Transfer Certificate was issued on February 28 2008 — the same day that the same documents were issued for the transfer of Shereni, Ncube and Foroma to Polish clubs.

Shereni, the younger brother of former Zimbabwe international Harlington, is now at Podbeskidzie Beilsko Biala — the same League One club that Matawu joined in February this year.

Ncube, an unheralded 21-year-old player, and Foroma — a nomadic striker who has played for a number of clubs on the domestic scene — are both at Wisla Ustronianka.

The International Transfer Certificate Number for Nhamoinesu is 1092, for Shereni is 1093, for Ncube is 1094 and for Foroma is 1095.

Virtually all the players who are transferred from DT Africa United into Poland go under the pretext that they are either on attachment — or on a free loan — suggesting that there is no financial component involved in their move.

However, local football authorities suspect that this could be part of a grand scheme to conceal earnings from the transfers, which go into the off-shore accounts of the ghost clubs and agents, by giving an impression that the players are going for free.

The link between DT Africa United and a club caught up in the corruption web that rocked Polish football could also give an insight into the possibility that there could be a number of secret transactions involving the transfer of Zimbabwean players to that country.

If a club was found guilty of being part of a match-fixing scandal, chances are that the same club could be coerced to lie about the financial transactions involving the transfer of a player from Zimbabwe and thereby give local football authorities the impression that no money is changing hands.

Given that player transfers in football involve huge sums of money, the income generated is supposed to be declared for tax purposes but a number of local clubs — especially the ghost franchises — have found a way to evade tax by claiming that players were going on loan for free.

Yesterday Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, who is helping Fifa with their investigations, said it was virtually impossible to believe that all the players who were being transferred from DT Africa United to Poland were going for free.

"We would like to establish why DT Africa United appear so keen on signing these players, immediately after their contracts
had expired, and then take them to Poland if there are no financial benefits for the club involved.

"We would also like to establish whether players are being deliberately tapped from their clubs and influenced, not to extend their contracts, on the basis that if they join DT Africa United then they will be sent to Poland.

"We also want to look at the direct benefits to the players because we don’t want a situation whereby we encourage something that is close to the export of cheap labour, where our players get peanuts, with these clubs getting all the fortune.

"The issue of the ghost clubs and agents is also a big one given that it’s not just possible for a player to move from Masvingo United or Motor Action to a club that is not playing football at all here.

"Then the next thing we hear is that the same player is now in Poland and his last club in Zimbabwe was DT Africa United when that club is not even part of the football family here and when that player has not played even a single game for that club."

But given all these concerns, why then did Zifa issue the International Transfer Certificates for the players?

"The key issue here is that we never wanted to place the player at a disadvantage given that we believed it was part of his development to move from the local league to one in Europe," said Rushwaya.

"We put the football interests of the player first and in, doing so, we felt we were obliged to issue the International Transfer Certificate so that he can continue with his career — given that it is his only source of income.

"As for the administrative part of things, like the questions we are now raising, it was our decision that this could be done without jeorpadising the football interests of the players and that is why we issued the ITCs.

"If we had not issued the ITCs, it means that the players would not have completed their move and they would still be here, possibly without a club, while we continue with our investigations and we felt that would not be fair.

"If you look at the focus of our investigations, you will see that it gives the player the benefit of doubt that he was probably coerced into a deal, with the prospects that it was his only way to go to Europe, and he jumped at it.

"You will also realise that we are also looking at the direct benefits for the players — in these deals — so that they are not abused with the bulk of the money going into the pockets of clubs or agents.

"We all want our players to go to Europe but we want proper football channels to be followed."

The case involving the transfer of Zimbabwean players is already being handled by Fifa and Zifa have been in touch with the head of the world football governing body’s disciplinary and governance legal division, Paolo Lombardi.

The Fifa investigation — precipitated by a complaint raised by Zifa — was sparked by the gross anomalies that surrounded Matawu’s move to Polish side Podbeskidzie Beilsko Biala.

Matawu spent all his playing days, on the domestic scene, at Premiership club Motor Action who plucked him from obscurity and helped turn him into one of the best players who was good enough to win the Soccer Star of the Year in 2006.

The anomalies related to his transfer include:

l The fact that there is no real contract at Zifa, stating the period of attachment for Matawu at DT Africa United, and the details related to his perks.

l The fact that the contract entered into between DT Africa United and Matawu was never submitted to the relevant football authorities, as should be the case, how then would it be used in the event of conflict resolution mechanisms?

l The fact that in the event of a dispute, either financial or material that might arise from the marriage between Matawu and DT Africa United, how then can local football authorities intervene given that the club is not part of their structures?

l Given the apparent desperation that can be detected in the player for a move abroad, to the extent that he signed with such a ghost club, what are the chances that his interests would be well protected in such a deal?

l Was this deal a free loan transfer, as suggested by DT Africa United in their official correspondence, or was there a secret exchange of money that has been kept away from the relevant football authorities

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Local streets in a mess

With highways in Poland having their own teething problems, local roads don’t have it much better either. After a long and frosty winter, the city of Krakow has found itself to be severely lacking in resources to fix every road in the southern city.

Poland is renowned for its bad roads. With a lack of motorways, major trunk routes through the country are constantly used by long distance trucks criss-crossing the country from north to south and east to west. There has been a boom in the usage of personal cars, so much so that the country’s transport infrastructure is bursting at the seams.

On a more local scale, city traffic in Poland is not getting a break either. Urban development has been growing rapidly, and city streets and roads are simply crumbling. In Krakow the problem has escalated to such an extent that the local edition of the daily Gazeta Wyborcza organised a reader poll to name and shame the worst thoroughfares in the city, entitled “Akcja Durszlak”: or simply, “Operation Colander”.

Another problem for the city of Krakow is that it has missed out on 270 million zloty’s worth of EU funding to help get its roads back into shape. With a hole of around 60 million euro, a lot of roads are not going to be touched this season. But with Krakow’s hopes of hosting some of the games during the Euro 2012 football tournament, something has to move. One positive note to finish on though: since the completion of the A4 motorway through Upper Silesia and its near completion near the border with Germany, at least Krakow is connected with the rest of Europe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Former Polish sports minister on trial on corruption charges

Seventeen people, including club officials and referees, were sentenced to up to four years in jail on Friday in the largest corruption trial in the history of Polish football.
A regional court sentenced the former president of the club Arka Gdynia, identified only as Jacek M. in line with Polish privacy laws, to four years in prison, and Ryszard F., considered the mastermind behind the operation, to 3 1/2 years. Both were convicted of belonging to "an organized criminal group" that rigged Arka Gdynia matches from 2003-05.

Three other club officials received two-year sentences. A fourth club representative, nine match referees, two match observers and one player received suspended sentences.

The trial comes amid an ongoing investigation, launched by Wroclaw prosecutors in 2005, into match-fixing in Polish football that has plagued the country's domestic leagues for years.

So far, prosecutors have charged almost 200 people -- including members of the Polish Football Federation, coaches, referees, players and club officials -- with fixing matches in the top domestic leagues.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mieszko's shareholders furious after being left in the dark

For the past several weeks shareholders of confectionery producer Mieszko cannot sleep calmly. First, the market was filled with rumors about serious financial difficulties of Latvian-Estonia group Alta Capital Partners, (ACP) which is a majority shareholder in the firm.

Afterwards, three independent members of its supervisory board resigned, and then a few days ago Marek Moczulski stepped down as the company's president. Puls Biznesu acquired a memorandum of Unicredit CA IB Poland from November 2008, which reads that ACP was planning to dispose of its stake in the confectionery producer and the financial institution was playing the role of exclusive agent in preparing this transaction.

The memorandum reached minority shareholders and outraged them presenting financial forecasts for 2008, which were not officially disclosed. "The management board had nothing to do with the memorandum," said the former president Marek Moczulski. Alta also denied being the source of the leak.

According to experts, a potential transaction would be very difficult and would only be successful by acquiring a sector investor. According to the memorandum, Mieszko might also be eyeing mid-size companies from CEE as an alternative solution.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Walesa threatens to leave Poland

Polish anti-communist leader Lech Walesa has threatened to leave Poland after a second book accused him of being a communist spy as a young man.

The former president and Solidarity leader said he was tired of defending himself against claims he collaborated with the secret police in the 1970s.

He also demanded greater support from the democratic institutions of the state he fought for in the 1980s.

Mr Walesa was cleared of earlier spying allegations by a special court in 2000.

Judges concluded that former SB security service agents had forged documents in his file in a bid to prevent him receiving the Nobel Peace prize in 1983.

'Unpunished attacks'

Mr Walesa led the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, Solidarity, which emerged to challenge Poland's communist government during strikes in the Gdansk shipyards in 1980, and eventually helped overthrow it nine years later.

In 1990, he was swept to power as the country's first post-communist president.

The latest book on Mr Walesa's life, which was published earlier this month, repeated a claim that he spied on his colleagues in the Gdansk shipyards in the 1970s. It also alleges he fathered an illegitimate child.

It was published by a 24-year-old historian at Poland's Institute for National Remembrance (IPN), which investigates communist-era crimes.

On Monday, Mr Walesa threatened to leave Poland and hand back his Nobel Prize if the law and the courts failed to protect him from the "unpunished attacks" on his life story.

"Fascists and communists killed but they murdered their enemies," he said. "Here, friends and patriots are being murdered, and for what price? A historian must decide whether this serves Poland, and not just repeat unlikely nonsense."

Some critics and Prime Minister Donald Tusk have voiced support for Mr Walesa, saying that the books are politically motivated.

"We need Lech Walesa in Poland as an important authority figure," said Mr Tusk, himself a former Solidarity activist.

The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says the accusations are unlikely to do too much damage to Mr Walesa's reputation.

According to surveys, many Poles say even if he did err as a young man, he is still a hero for what he achieved in the fight for freedom and democracy in the 1980s, our correspondent says.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

AIB suffers losses through Polish bank

Allied Irish Banks (AIB) took another hit this week as its Polish arm saw shares downgraded by UniCredit.

The group moved Bank Zachodni BWK - which AIB holds a 70.5 per cent stake in from hold to sell - resulting in share prices tumbling, the Irish Independent reports.

Warsaw's BRE Bank also saw its stance downgraded by UniCredit, a move one of the company's analysts believes is a sign of the turbulent times ahead for the country's lenders.

"Given the ongoing deterioration in the economic and banking environment, we believe that 2009 will be a very challenging year for Polish banks," said Iza Rokicka, a spokesperson for the brokerage.

The news follows a recent scandal which saw AIB fall victim to an alleged loans scam thought to have been worth somewhere in the region of 56 million Euro involving a number of its London offices.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Abused daughter tells of torment at hands of Polish pervert dad

Alicja Bartoszuk
In the first interview since he appeared in court last week charged with illegal imprisonment, persistent rape and incest, 22-year-old Alicja Bartoszuk, told the daily tabloid Fakt “He made me believe that in every family the father sleeps with his daughters. He said that’s how a daughter is prepared for life with men.”

The girl, who alleges she was held in captivity for six years and gave birth to two of her father’s children who were later put up for adoption, went on to describe how her mother, Teresa B., had urged her to induce miscarriages during the pregnancies by lying on the floor and dropping heavy boxes of tiles on to her stomach.

“He doesn’t deserve to be called a father. I wish him death, for what he did to me, for wasting my life,” she told the paper.

The accused, Krzystof B., 46, whose full name can’t be given in compliance with Polish law, has denied the charges of multiple rape, illegally holding his daughter captive and five other more minor crimes but has admitted to having ‘consensual’ sex with his daughter.

He was arrested in September last year in the eastern town of Siedlce after his wife and daughter came forward with the allegations.

At the time, Teresa B. told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper “I noticed something wasn’t right when my daughter began growing up. He touched her where he shouldn’t have. And when I wanted to talk to him about it, he said ‘I have a right to her’ as if she was his object.”

She added that her husband beat her and her daughter when they asked that he stop the abuse: “He intimidated us; he threatened that my daughter would be killed, that he would destroy us both if anyone learned about it.”

Also according to the mother, her husband used to order her to watch television whenever he went into his daughter’s room, closed it and removed the door handle.

Prosecutors have since tracked down two children that Alicja gave birth to, but say they have not conducted DNA tests on the children to determine whether Krzysztof fathered them.

If found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
AIB suffers losses through Polish bank

Friday, April 10, 2009

Polish Govt. hit by double corruption blow

Waldemar Pawlak, who is leader of the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Polish Peasants’ Party (PSL), is accused of giving public tenders connected with the Voluntary Fire Brigade, of which he is also president, to friends and members of his own family.

The allegations, which broke at the end of last week, have been vehemently denied by the Deputy PM who said, “I informed the PM about the full transparency of my activities connected with the Voluntary Fire Brigades. Already this year the association’s finances have been inspected by the Supreme Chamber of Control and the Ministry of the Interior and Administration.” He added that he thought the allegations to be a revenge attack against him and those around him for his battles with banks related to currency options.

The Deputy PM, who in a radio interview last year defended nepotism in public life by saying, “One should be glad when children show similar interests to their parents and want to follow in their footsteps,” was joined in his defence this week by fellow members of PSL. They claim the allegations are an attack inspired by PO, which may have wanted to discipline the coalition partner.

But this week PM Tusk said that PSL and PO had “different standards of behaviour in public life” and warned that Pawlak had violated political standards by establishing a business-social arrangement around himself.

He added that the Deputy PM would or could not be disciplined, however, since he was not a member of PO and thus party standards did not apply to him.

The PM was less lenient meanwhile with PO Senator Tomas Misiak who this week was forced to resign his position within the party after allegations emerged that during his time as head of the Senate National Economy Committee, his personal company, Work Service, received a contract to provide services without going through a public bidding process.

Misiak, tipped as a high-flyer within PO and earmarked for head of the party’s European Election campaign, has also denied the claims, saying he had been “put on a cross for someone else’s sins,” a direct reference to the fact that Pawlak is to apparantly receive no punishment at all.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rostowski accused of impropriety

Jacek Rostowski
Leader of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, wasted little time in demanding that the Anti- Corruption Bureau delve into the minister’s finances to see how he could afford to pay back such significant loans, adding that Mr Rostowski had also failed to declare them.

Jacek Rostowski, who is a member of the governing Civic Platform party, is alleged to have received the money from two British financial institutions, the Cheltenham and Gloucester building society, and Paragon Mortgages, a lender specialising in loans to landlords.

But the minister, who was born in Britain and educated at the London School of Economics, said that in addition to his salary he also earns money from renting property in Great Britain, and has income from book royalties. This, he explained, allowed him to repay the mortgages.

Despite this, the minister’s contacts with the banks have raised eyebrows with suggestions that he has a conflict of interests.

The newspaper Gazeta Polska argued that by having the loans Mr Rostowski had fostered the impression that he had “nontransparent contacts with commercial banks which have a vested interested in decisions and plans for the Polish financial sector.”

The controversy capped a bad few days for the government that had seen it rocked by one scandal involving the deputy prime minister, and leader of the junior coalition party, Waldemar Pawlak, and a further one tarnishing the career of up-and-coming political star Thomas Misiak.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poland seeks refereeing help over corruption probe

Miroslaw Drzewiecki
Polish football is considering using referees from Germany and the Czech Republic amid a corruption investigation which is leading to a shortage of match officials, it was reported Friday.

Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki said referees from the two neighbouring countries could be considered to help out in the Ekstraklasa, the country's top league, the Polish press agency PAP reported.

"We must be aware that if need arises, we will have to sign temporary agreements with the Germans, with the Czechs," Drzewiecki told a news conference after visiting Slask Stadium, which is being overhauled for the 2012 European Championship.

"If we are not able to have a sufficient number of our own referees, we will have to borrow them from abroad."

The number of referees now officiating at matches in the league this season has fallen from 21 to 15. The Polish football federation PZPN requires at least 18 referees to run its league programme.

Anti-corruption officials arrested two referees on Thursday in the investigation into corrupt practices in Polish football.

The Polish Football Federation said the decision on hiring foreign referees "does not belong to Drzewiecki" but to it and the referees' association. However, spokesman Andrzej Strejlau said using officials from lower domestic leagues is a possibility.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another arrest in Polish football scam

Polish football Premier League referee, Piotr P, has been arrested at his home in Warsaw following an ongoing investigation into the widespread corruption in Polish football.

Only a few days ago, the referee was overseeing a match. Today, he is to be interrogated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The arrest of Piotr P. means that there are now only 17 referees entitled to referee matches in Poland’s top football league, although in order for matches to be played, the Polish Referees Association needs at least 18 certified professionals.

Piotr P. is the 196th person to be detained in connection with match fixing in Poland since investigations began in May 2005. So far charges have been levied against referees, footballers and sporting professionals, including Wit Z. and Kazimierz F, board members from the Polish Football Association.

He is to stand in front of prosecutors in the south-western town of Wroclaw where he will hear the accusations brought against him. He has refereed 12 matches so far this season.

Another referee, Mariusz Z. From the Silesian town of Sosnowiec was arrested yesterday and has two counts of corruption brought against him.

A fourth division referee has also been taken into custody for accepting bribes in the 2003/4 season in the Polish third division.

In the continuing case of cleaning up Polish football, so far almost 200 people have had accusations brought against them over corruption in the sport. 68 of them have been arrested.

Monday, April 06, 2009

400 newspapers and 900 Polish corruption posts…

The reason why I am typing right now is because I feel some necessity to say something about another milestone in my blogging history. There are actually two milestones going on here- the Polish Police and Administrative Corruption Page is waiting to have its 900th post posted (I post them in advance to cover my "one yellow story a day" framework) and the Being Had Times is being published for the 400th time today.

I guess in the end we might say only that these are round numbers and, as I have just celebrated, or better, did not celebrate my 45th birthday for exactly the same reason, round numbers don't really mean crap. This thought actually was not mine but came instead from a 40ish neighbor lady who has obviously given aging some thought herself. But then again, maybe these sorts of things do have meaning. On an average, it takes about 2.5 hours to make a newspaper. Sometimes it takes longer on poor news days and sometimes there were technical snafus and I do remember losing 2 or 3 finished papers which had to be completely redone. I also have not been perfect at this and I think, if I remember correctly, I did not publish one time for computer failure, choosing not to do it at the internet café, something I had done once or twice. I think I have done these a couple of times on the road as well. Generally though, this two and half hours is a reasonable amount of time to plan on being spent every Wednesday and Sunday and I guess this means that I have spent at least 1000 hours of my life making these papers. We can also probably double that number for Story entries and then add in again for letter writing and other such duties and I am not even going to begin thinkinig about the book. So, in any case, this isn't nothing.

But again and again and again, it is not the quality or content of these web spaces that was at the heart of making them, nor was it ever about creating an artificial celebrity for my ego to play with. I mean, I don't actually like drawing attention to myself very much. I like getting attention for work I've done, this is cool, but on me personally, no. It is also not a money making enterprise in any way. Well, getting some money from this would have been nice, but basically about the only positives is that it has led to some interesting encounters and some new friends and I have been written to by students, business people and folks with roots in the region, so this is always nice. Eventually, the whole Being Had Blog was created only for the specific purpose of keeping alive on the web that Polish incident which happened so long ago. It has always been about being pulled out of my life for a year, the resulting damage to the people around me and about trying to create a situation which might make it difficult for this to happen for others. This is not to say that this newspaper and the Story are irrelevant- I have seen many things I have written have an effect on the general argument about Belarus. But it is only an advertiser to lead people to the book which is on the sidebar in WORD or PDF form and has so far been read, well, downloaded, a couple of thousand times. And, it is about corruption.

I hate corruption.

Despite the endless arguments I get from idiots (no apology) who seem to think that the highest level of enlightenment available to them is that they understand that there is corruption! (This great knowledge being I suppose their wake up call from the largess of childhood). "Hey Adam," they say, "don't be naïve. You gotta understand how things work!" And this from EVERYBODY. But I say no.

That's me beating my head against the wall at the bottom of the sidebar. And this is me, sitting next to the computer, a 25 watt bulb lighting the keyboard at four in the morning almost eight years later. And yea, as it always is, I am still griping and still publishing story after story after story about how screwed up and nefarious the people who stole my time were and are. And this is you too George W! This is me still trying to say that the world does need character before nepotism, pride of accomplishment before payoffs and responsibility and vested interest before standing in the road. It must be. Why must we only say that this is the way it is? I mean, why fight cancer if all we want is for things to be the way they are. Why bother?

What? Not fight cancer? Haven't you ever seen anyone with cancer? Don't you know how horrible it is?

Yes I have. And you know what? Corruption is cancer.

And here's one example. How about sport? Do you want to tell me that knowing that one team or player has less of a reason to try hard than another (the standings, the draft, etc) is a factor in making your bets on the game? Ok, this is reasonable. But sometimes teams that want to win lose because of the pressure. Tiger Woods doesn't win the open, Rocco Mediate losses it. And so does Sean O'Hair. But my question is this: would you care about these guys if you found out that O'Hair didn't choke and go 3 over par in the fourth round but was paid to do it? And as for another sport analogy, where are Bonds, McGuire and Sammy? Thousands write in to forums saying that we don't need Saint McGuire in the hall because in addition to all of the time he spent practicing his craft and lifting and running and training, and regardless of how much he gave us by playing how he played, he also added to his testosterone count via something other than Wheaties. Apparently we hate the thought of cheating so much, we happily throw these guys away despite the fact that they were literally gods to us in their time. We throw them and much of our love for the sport away along with them.

This is an example of corruption.

But listen to me: 200 players, owners and referees have been arrested in Poland for corruption and bribes in their premier league. You want to bitch about American baseball players being juiced because it makes it harder for you to enjoy strat-o-matic baseball? I'm talking here about a whole country of 1919 Black Sox. I'm talking about 900 entries about Poland and Polish people and Polish politicians- I am talking about an entire geographic entity, an entity which prides itself on being religious by the way, which cannot and does not believe in anything it does as being clean, or right or beautiful or even real.


So I bother. Of course it is still relevant. It is relevant everywhere. It'll be relevant until we, and that's a cool word there- we, until we decide we don't want it anymore. And I'm saying we shouldn't want it. I'm saying that fighting corruption is important. And all I have been doing is using my own experience as an example. It's not for me. It's never been for me. It's just what I have been given to do as my service to the world and I believe what I am saying is right.

Well, actually, I do it for that and because of one other little thing: When I was in Poland, the only actual argument ever brought against me in that farce of a trial was that, in the words of Stanislaw Wiesniakowski, the surely to be sainted public prosecutor, the damage to Tomas Zaremba's car could have be cause by a human hand. Now, we are not talking specifically my hand. They had my finger prints, there was very good evidence that the damage was pre-existing and also Zaremba himself used an estimate of damages to his car in court which was made some six weeks after our meeting after yet another vehicular incident. No, they justified taking a year of my life only because the damages to the car could have been caused by a hand.

So because of that, my argument for the continued publishing of these web objects is simply this:

After 400 newspapers, about 600 Stories and 900 entries in the Corruption journal, don't you think it is possible that my little affair could have been staged by Poland?

Anyway, again and again, thanks for reading me and for all the support.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Parties seek to clean up their members' ties with business

Late last week in response to the recent accusations of nepotism and corruption concerning politicians in the ruling coalition, the Civic Platform (PO) party revealed a list of its deputies who participate in businesses or hold shares in companies.

“One cannot finish off people just because there were once entrepreneurs and own shares,” announced Waldemar Pawlak, who is both the leader of the Polish Peasants Party (PSL) and Economy Minister and who was implicated in a corruption scandal.

PSL representatives do not agree with PM Donald Tusk that members of parliament should dispose of their shares in companies. PO wants such regulations to be in force following the next Parliamentary elections. This stance is also supported by Law and Justice (PiS) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) which are to prepare their own lists of deputies who are also businessmen.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Polish system of EU fund distribution is corrupt

The Polish system of EU fund distribution is corrupt. Funding applications can be reviewed by the same persons who submit them. 'If I catch anyone doing this, I'll cancel the whole procedure', warns the minister of regional development.

'I think the whole case of how EU subsidies are distributed should be investigated by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau', Marek Goliszewski, president of Business Centre Club, an industry lobby group, said at a press briefing yesterday.

'The system of expert selection and application review is pathological! Some applications receive preferential treatment, others are rejected without reason. Those who review the applications themselves write them after hours', pointed out Mr Goliszewski, clearly annoyed.

Gazeta has for a couple of days now been investigating the matter itself and its findings are, sadly, consistent with Mr Goliszewski's diagnosis. The main pathology is that the funding applications are reviewed by expert teams whose members can receive up to 10 percent of the subsidy amount if the subsidy is granted. No one has been caught reviewing their own application yet - but the possibility of widespread abuse exists. Also because your application can be reviewed by your own colleagues.

In the Dolnolskie province alone out of the eighty three experts in charge of reviewing the applications, as many as thirteen work for companies that draw up applications for money. Some of those companies actually boast about the fact on their websites.

How did these experts find their way to the review committees? Central and local government institutions every now and then announce open competitions for the purpose. Virtually everyone can run in them.

Pawel Maliszewski, co-owner of Co-Worker, a Wroclaw-based consulting firm, tried to assess the scale of the phenomenon by presenting himself as a client interested in securing a subsidy.

'I had heard that among the members of the review committees were employees or even heads of companies that write applications for money. And it proved to be true', says Mr Maliszewski.

Among the members of the review committee in Wroclaw are two experts from Centrum Wspierania Biznesu, a ?widnica-based consultancy. All five applications that CWB had drawn up for its clients were approved.

'They won easily, ending up 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 28th, respectively', says Mr Maliszewski.

Barbara Kanikowska, head of the Dolnolskie Intermediate Body (appointed by the local assembly to distribute EU subsidies for business), stresses there were no irregularities whatsoever. She says no CWB officer reviewed applications that CWB had helped prepare.

'All experts sign a declaration of no conflict of interest under the pain of criminal liability, in which they agree not to review applications in which they may have an interest', says Ms Kanikowska.

According to the evidence Gazeta has gathered, the situation in other provinces is similar. Dubious situations can even take place on the central level, where subsidies as large as PLN150 million are awarded.

'I suppose that about one in five of the review committees members reviewing applications in the two parts of the Innovative Economy programme are employees lf consulting firms', Michal Gwizda, partner at Accreo Taxand, tells Gazeta.

We have checked one of the lists of review committee members posted on the Ministry of Regional Development's website. Out of the more than sixty persons on the list, more than twenty had ties to consulting firms.

'The scale of the problem is vast', warns Jerzy Kwieciski, former minister of regional development, expert for BCC and president of the foundation Europejskie Centrum Przedsibiorczoci.

'If such conflicts of interest are tolerated, we will have a situation where not necessarily the best projects are approved. Even if theoretically everything will be done in accordance with the law.'

'I am very sensitive to such irregularities. We'll intensify inspections', Minister of Regional Development Ewa Biekowska told Gazeta.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Polish judicial system slammed as ‘corrupt’ and ‘ineffective’

Starting with a devastating report in RZECZPOSPOLITA on what Poles think about courts and prosecutors. The daily writes that research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice on the threshold of a planned reform of the justice system has shown that 44 percent of the population believe that the justice system is a failure. One in three Poles does not trust courts, judges and prosecutors. One in every two Poles says that the worst problem is corruption, followed by complicated procedures and bureaucracy. More than 70 percent of respondents say that sentences are unjust, courts are inefficient, biased and plagued by delays. However, Poles still trust legal advisers and the police, writes RZECZPOSPOLITA.

Another chilling report in DZIENNIK which writes that Poles top the list in the EU (and are third in the world) in the use of painkillers. Seventy percent of the population take over-the-counter analgesics because only 20 percent say that their pain problems were solved by a doctor. Several thousand land in hospital every year because of overdosing painkillers. DZIENNIK cites the case of a 46-year-old woman who bled to death because she had been taking five different kinds of remedies at once against her rheumatism. “People believe advertisements” writes the daily “and think that ‘intelligent’ headache pills only help headaches, so they take this for migraine, that for a cold and add something else for backache. They go to different doctors and don’t tell one about medicines prescribed by another; then they buy over-the-counter painkillers as well”.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Kidney for sale on the internet

A Pole put his kidney and bone marrow up for auction on the internet, with a reserve price of 40,000 zlotys (some 9,000 euros) each.

The seller wrote on Allegro, the Polish version of Ebay, that he intends to sell his kidney and bone marrow because he is in a difficult financial situation.

The auction was to last for six days but the seller closed it on Sunday evening without stating the reason for cutting short the auction.

This is not the first time human organs have been put up for sale on the internet in Poland. Kidney and bone marrow went on sale for 45,000 zlotys (some 10,000 euros) in total. It is possible that the same person is behind both controversial auctions.

The two cases are currently being investigated by the police. Spokesman for the police chief Mariusz Sokolowski explained that placing such offers online is against Polish law. “Such a deed is punishable by a fine, and or a jail sentence,” he said.

If found, the kidney seller could face even up to three years in prison.
Note: How much for both kidneys?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Polish Fritzl on trial

A court in Bialystok, northern Poland, has heard charges read out against a man accused of imprisoning and raping his daughter, in a case dubbed “the Polish Fritzl”.

The 45 year old man from Siedlce, eastern Poland, was arrested last September and charged with imprisoning his daughter for six years, raping her repeatedly and fathering two children who were immediately put up for adoption.

The man’s wife was apparently aware of the imprisonment but was reportedly too afraid to do anything about it.

The accused admits having sex with the daughter but claims that the act was consensual.

The opening of the case comes the day after Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment in a mental institution in Austria for similar charges.