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POLAND

 

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Transparency International’s corruption rank for this country in 2000=43, corruption perception index =4.1

 

police chief resigns. The chief of Poland’s police force Antoni Kowalczyk has resigned following accusations linking him to a political corruption scandal involving the country’s ruling party. The scandal is centres on accusations that ruling party councillors in the small town suspected of links with a criminal gang were warned about a planned police raid on themselves and the gang. Commander Kowalczyk came under increasing pressure to resign following revelations he changed his testimony in the scandal. (BBC News, October 29, 2003, summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

Poll shows scale of corruption, bribes are common. According to a recent survey conducted by the Batory Foundation and financed by the World Bank, corruption has become a widespread occurrence. Corruption is most common on the border between public administration and business activity. The report shown that corruption most often appears in public tenders, customs offices, and in the case of audits and applying for permits. The reports also said that business people are in a much more corruption-prone environment. Among the general population about one fifth admits to having given bribes. (Polish News Sep 05 2003 summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

Corruption high and low, says World Bank report. Corruption in Poland is more widespread than ever, says the annual World Bank report. Traditionally corrupted areas, such as top administration jobs, local government, control and management of privatisation processes, are not exclusive. The report reveals new areas, such as university level education, religious organisations, recruitment, implementation of law and justice, business ethics, and public trust professions. Jacek Wojciechowski who is from the WB said that the most dangerous processes have been observed with the system of law courts, such as slow processing of cases, plus corruption within the prosecutors' offices and among police officers. (Polish News Bulletin 29 Aug 2003 summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

FURTHER CORRUPTION CHECKS ON POLISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS It's reported that two aides of Prime Minister Leszek Miller, Adam Jaskow and Jerzy Godula were barred from their posts after the Rzeczpospolita daily reported that they were simultaneously on the National Investment Fund boards. In a separated case, Robert Walencik, another Miller aide was sacked after having been found to be working as a journalist. It's said that under Polish law, government officials may not sit on company supervisory boards nor own more than 10% shares in commercial companies. (BBC, 20 Aug 2003, summarized by Hanh Vu).

 

MEDIA UNCOVER ANOTHER BRIBE AFFAIR IN HEALTHCARE SECTOR Another corruption scandal involving the deputy minister of health Aleksander nauman and chief of the political office of former health minister, Waldemar Deszczynski has been traced by Rzeczpospolita. According to the paper, a drug company Sindan, which hired an office in Warsaw from Mr. Deszczynski (when he was the chief adviser of minister Lapinski) got a new oncological drug registered within just a couple of months in stead of two year as usual. The Parliamentary club of Law and Justice (PiSP has formally applied to the Prime Minister to dismiss Nauman, as they believe he should be held responsible for corruption affairs inside the ministry and National Health Fund. Meanwhile, the SLD has grown weary of the shocking behavior of former health minister, Marius Lapinski, who declared he would sue Newsweek.  (BBC Monitoring Service 23 May 2003, summary by Hanh Vu).

 

BRIBERY SCANDAL THREATENS POLAND'S BID TO JOIN EUROPEAN UNION. The Prime Minister of Poland, Leszek Miller, announced that he would call for early general elections. Mr. Leszek Miller is facing suspicions about his role in a political corruption scandal, the so-called "Rywingate". Film producer Lew Rywin claimed that he was working for the Prime Minister when he tried to solicit a $17.5 million bribe from the publisher of Poland's leading newspaper. Mr. Miller, who denies the allegations, told journalists: "we are on the doorstep of a new reality, where it would be helpful to gain a new democratic mandate for parliament and the government." (The New York Times, April 3, 2003, summary by Pavlidis George).

 

Bribery probe goes to the top in Poland.Public prosecutors have questioned Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski as a witness in a corruption scandal. The prosecutors indicated that they questioned Mr Kwasniewski in their probe into allegations that Lew Rywin, a film producer with close ties to the ruling leftist SLD party, tried to solicit a $17.5m bribe. According to reports, a newspaper editor in chief taped Rywin’s alleged request for the bribe. (Financial Times Mar 28 2003, summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

Premier, Struggling after Loss, Drops Coalition Partner. Prime Minister Leszek Miller of Poland struggled to keep his leftist government stable and his country on the road to European Union membership, after losing his parliamentary majority. Miller has blamed the Peasants for the government’s break-up, for pursuing what he called “internal bargaining and quarrels.”  The Peasants Party leader, Jaroslaw Kalinowski, said that Miller had turned his back on Poland’s poor. Poland has more than two million farmers, many of them living on the edge of poverty. (New York Times, March 1, 2003 summary by Sherldine Tomlinson)

NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION LEGISLATION In a bid to rub out corruption and nepotism, Poland has just released law amendments under which local self-government officials have to declare their assets as well as information on any family ties to recipients of public spending before April 30 and all data will be accessible to the public at local administrations or on the Internet. Those who fail to comply with these new requirements will face financial penalties or dismissal. Moreover, they will not be allowed to receive any gifts or benefits from parties to decisions in which the public servants participated in an official capacity. This ban is in force for three years after the term of office. (Polish News Bulletin 08 Jan 2003, summary by Hanh Vu).

 

ETHICS COMMITTEE CLOSE TO ENDING PROPERTY STATEMENTS CHECK. The Ethics Committee of the Sejm (lower house of parliament) is currently assessing property declarations provided by MPs, in order to safeguard the Sejm against corruption. The role of the Committee is to verify whether application forms have been filled in correctly and in accordance with tax statements. (Rzeczpospolita-Polish News Bulletin, December 3, 2002, summary by Pavlidis George).

 

New anti-crime bill. It was reported that Sejm is to review legislation proposed by the government that aims to clamp down on crime and corruption. Stemming from the recently "Secure State" program adopted by the ruling coalition, this initiative provides changes to the Criminal, Criminal Procedure and Executive Criminal Codes that toughen penalties against persons receiving material benefit from unlawful activity. Under this proposal, illegal gains would be subject to confiscation with a greater burden of proof falling on suspected criminals. Greater punishment is foreseen for corrupt practices by public officials whose definition has been specified in greater detail in order to improve legal clarity. (Polish News Bulletin, October 2, 2002 summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION REPORT SPARKS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS. State prosecutors are investigating into 14 of the 22 cases of corruption identified by a recent government's report. According to Justice Minister Barbara Piwnik, "all of the cases identified in the report, with which prosecutors have not yet dealt, and which may be connected with criminal offences, will be the subject of investigations." The state firms under investigation include Warsaw power distributor STOEN, Polish Post, the KGHM copper concern and insurance company PZU. (Polish News Bulletin, May 9, 2002, summary by Pavlidis George).

 

Minister flat loan provides new impetus in accountability debate   Poland’s Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski is one of the latest government figure to fall prey to corruption allegations in relation to a ZL300, 000 loan issued to him by unidentified “friends”.  Mr. Szmajdzinski has denied all allegations against him.   (Polish News Bulletin 04 Apr 2002 summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

PARTY LEADER STRIPPED OF HIS IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION  In a motion backed by 281 deputies from the governing and opposition parties, the Polish parliament stripped Andrzej Lepper, leader of the third largest party in the Lower House, of his immunity from prosecution. Mr. Lepper, who faces over 130 criminal charges for slander and levelling corruption accusations against ministers and members of parliament, has refused to withdraw his allegations. A rabble- rousing peasant leader, Mr. Lepper accused all previous governments of “plundering the nation’s assets”, he accused the Central Bank governor of causing an “economic holocaust” and also alleged that the President Aleksander Kwasniewski was “leading Poland into the European Union on its knees”. Mr. Lepper’s Samoobrona party came to power last year when it won 11% of the seats in the lower house, however its popularity has slid from 10% last year to 7% currently. The decision to remove immunity of Mr. Lepper was finalised post two days of noisy parliamentary proceedings marked by Samoobrona party deputies speaking out of turn repeatedly and rejecting the proposal.         (Financial Times, January 28, 2002, summary by Aruna Balakrishnan).

 

POLES TURN SCEPTICAL ABOUT LEPPER Public opinion showed a decrease in confidence in Andrzej Lepper (38 percent, a 15-percent drop from November) due to his ungrounded campaign of corruption accusations against leading politicians, in Minister of Foreign Affairs Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (from 46 percent to 34 percent), who fell victim to his presentation of Poland’s negotiation position in land negotiations with the European Union, and also in the ruling coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance and the Labour Union (SLD-UP), while Law and Justice (PiS) doubled its result from 6 to 12 percent. (28 December issues of Gazeta Wyborcza pp. 1, 5, Rzeczpospolita p. A2 Financial Times, December 28, 2001, summary by Monica Voitovici).

 

PRESIDENT OFFERS AMENDMENTS TO THE PENAL CODE- VOLUNTARY DIVULGING OF BRIBING TO BE MADE UNPUNISHABLE BY LAW  In a presidential project of amendments to the penal code, the Polish President and the Government have agreed that people who give bribes but voluntarily inform the law enforcement agencies about the same, should be exempted from punishment. This move has been ratified by the chief of the polish branch of Transparency International, as a move “in the right direction”. The reason for this package of legal reforms is stated to be the pervasive corruption in the Polish economy and is intended to facilitate the running of businesses in Poland. Though the project is not yet ready, President Kwasniewski has promised a package of very high quality.   (Financial Times, December 28, 2001, summary by Aruna Balakrishnan).

 

OMBUDSMAN HIGHLIGHTS CONCERN OVER CORRUPTION AT RUSSIAN BORDER.  Ombudsman Andrzej Zoll has highlighted the rampant corruption at the Bezledy-Bagratyonovsk border crossing, where Russian border guards demand for bribes from all vehicles crossing the border. He has suggested that the polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski raise this issue of corruption with the Russian President Putin at the impending visit of the premier to Poland in January. It is believed that the Russian guards direct all vehicles into a parking lot and sometimes demand upto $15 per vehicle for a speedy departure, failing which the vehicles may have to wait for over three days.    (RFE/RL, December 13, 2001, summary by Aruna Balakrishnan).

 

DISMISSED DEPUTY SPEAKER ACCUSES TOP MINISTERS OF CORRUPTION. An official investigation has begun into allegations of corruption against the Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, the Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski and several MPs including Donald Tusk, Pawel Piskorski, and Andrzej Olechowski. The leader of Samoobrona radical party, and the Deputy speaker of the Lower House, Andrzej Lepper, who was dismissed from his post just then, has claimed that he possesses the documents, which proved the guilt of the ministers. However, he has refused to hand it over to the prosecution saying that he mistrusted the judges. According to the law, the prosecution can sue him for withholding information, and if his claims were proved wrong after investigations, he would be held responsible for imputation.  (Polish News Bulletin, December 3, 2001, summary by Aruna Balakrishnan).

 

SMUGGLERS OVERCOME CUSTOMS EFFORT    Poland’s long eastern border, soon to become the European Union’s frontier, is crossed thousands of times a day by poverty-stricken Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarussians who are smuggling contraband such as cigarettes, alcohol, arms, and drugs.  They sell the contraband for as much as 200 percent profit to supplement wages that are as low as $40 per month.  Key decisions on how and when to enlarge the 15-nation block are expected from the Gothenburg Summit scheduled in June in Sweden.  Candidate states for EU membership know their border crossings will come under increasing scrutiny and issues to be addressed before the possible expansion date of 2004 also include the trafficking of women, the flow of illegal immigrants, and long-term, multi-entry visas.  Upgraded border preparations such as housing, modern terminals, new computer systems, infra-red sensitive cameras, and radiation detecting devises are required as the poorly paid customs officials are under-equipped and under-staffed.    (AOL News (Reuters), June 4, 2001, summary by Marg Reynolds).

 

NON-GOVERNMENT PARTIES AGAINST ANTI-CORRUPTION OFFICE. Opposition parties have motioned a bill for a central Anti-Corruption office to be rejected on first reading in the lower house of parliament.  Marek Dyduch, Democratic Left Alliance party, believes an office would create institutional and jurisdiction chaos, increase functioning costs of public administration, and take over part of the power of the police, State Protection, and the Supreme Audit Chamber.  Henryk Wujec, Freedom Union party, believes political corruption may take root within the office itself; and Bogdan Pek, Polish Peasant party, believes such an office may create a new, super-secret police.    (FT, Apr 24, 2001, summary by Marg Reynolds).

 

CORRUPTION DEEP ROOTED, BUT INTOLERANCE FOR IT GROWING. A footnote in a World Bank study last year shocked Poles to a push against bribery and graft in politics and business when the report disclosed unwanted legislation could be blocked in parliament for about $3 million (U.S.).  Confronted with a corrupt business environment, and losing to competitors because of his lack of skills in bribes, Jakub Bierzynski, with the assistance of Transparency International (TI), launched an anti-corruption business association known as ‘Manus Puris’ (‘a hand to the clean’).  Unprecedented in central and eastern Europe, there are presently 35 member companies and the association has the support of key international organizations.  The Polish media has also launched a strong anti-corruption campaign, however, high-level corruption in public service is serious and getting worse.  TI recently rated Poland 44th on the Corruption Perception Index.  Forms of corruption continue to flourish and undermine economic reform and have been found to be worse in transition economies than in the rest of the world.    (The Australian, Apr 11, 2001, summary by Marg Reynolds).

 

POLES KICK BACK BRIBES. A footnote in a World Bank's report into corruption in Poland has shocked ordinary Poles: if one wants to block an unwanted piece of legislation passing through the Polish parliament, all one needs is about $US3 million under the table! Mr. Jakub Bierzynski, 34, is the head of the Warsaw-based media planning company OMD-Poland, a US-Polish joint venture. Mr. Bierzynski was recently confronted by corruption, when two international clients demanded bribes of "hundreds of thousands" for two advertising contracts. The reaction of Mr. Bierzynski was the launching of an anti-corruption business association unprecedented in central and Eastern Europe, in which members would pledge not to offer or receive bribes. The Manus Puris ("a hand to the clean") group has the mandate to sign up all the big players in Poland. To date, it has just 35 members and no major companies have signed. However, key organizations, including the World Bank, have expressed their support to the project. (Source: TI, Australian News Network, April 11, 2001, summary by Pavlidis George).

 

Warsaw NEW POLISH POLITICAL GROUP OFFERS A FRESH VISION  Citizens' Platform, (Polish acronym is PO) is led by Maciej Plazynski.. He has a feel-good agenda: lower corruption, unemployment, taxes, etc. and  better schooling and Internet access.

 

Corporate Governance: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2000 (Front page sec. C) notes that this country is among the lowest ten in corporate governance by CLSA, Salomon Smith Barney. This means that shareholders do not get equitable treatment and disclosed information can be false and misleading.  The laws governing duties of managers, accountants, etc. are inadequate or not enforced properly.

 

Polish privatization chief Wasacz dismissed (Central Europe Online/Poland Today, 17.8.00, Old URL:

http://www.centraleurope.com/polandtoday/news.php3?id=189204)

 

 

The Index of Economic Freedom (by Driscoll-Holmes-Kirkpatrick) for 2001 places Sri Poland in the “Mostly Free” category with a rank of 55 (Ranks range from 1 for Hong Kong to 155 for North Korea, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2000). H. D. Vinod’s trimmed correlation analysis indicates that countries free from economic regulation are less corrupt. After allowing for some exceptions by 20% trimming, the correlation is near 0.9.

 

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Last Updated:
8 February 2007