Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Polish-Swiss team probes Warsaw metro-gate corruption case

From: The News
The Minister of Justice is looking into a corruption scandal involving the purchase of rolling stock for Warsaw’s Metro train system, involving local authorities and bankers from Poland, Switzerland and Spain.

The first Polish-Swiss criminal investigation team in history was formed in October 2009 as a result of an agreement between the Polish Justice Ministry and the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office.

The team, which consists of investigators from the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) and from the Federal Criminal Police in Bern, are investigating whether Warsaw officials received bribes in exchange for fixing the results of a tender on the supply of trams and wagons to be used by Warsaw Metro.

The tender worth over 150 million dollars was won by the French transport giant Alstom. The investigators suspect that Warsaw officials were bribed between 1998 and 2002, when the chairman of the Democratic Party, Pawel Piskorski was involved in a series of alleged corruption scandals.

The international team will also investigate if Warsaw officials laundered money in Switzerland.

Several suspects have been arrested in Poland, Switzerland and Spain in connection with the case. In January, the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau detained Bohdan Z., former head of the Warsaw Metro and the Prosecutor’s Office in the western city of Wroclaw charged him with corruption. The Swiss police detained a former clerk at the Coutts bank who allegedly acted as a middleman between Warsaw officials and the company or individual who tried to influence the tender. Finally, two weeks ago Spanish police arrested Tadeusz N., a former Warsaw city hall official who is suspected of bribing the head of the Warsaw Metro.

The Spanish police was supposed to arrest Tadeusz N. in January but they could not find him even after the court issued the European Arrest Warrant on him. Therefore, the Polish Justice Minister Krzysztof Kwiatkowski asked the famous Spanish investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who arrested the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, for help.

The investigation into corruption at the Warsaw city hall was initiated by the testimony of Peter Vogel, an infamous “cashier of the left”, murderer and later banker in Switzerland who is accused of conducting illegal business transactions of Poland’s prominent left-wing politicians. Vogel reveled that bribes were transferred to Warsaw officials’ secret bank accounts in the Coutts bank in Zurich.

Now, the Polish-Swiss investigation team is establishing, where the money deposited on the Poles’ accounts came from.