Polish authorities arrested a former defence ministry official, a former parliamentarian and four more suspects as part of an investigation into the mismanagement of assets at the country’s state-owned defence firm, according to a statement released on Monday.
The Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) announced that it had detained Bartłomiej M., a former head of the political cabinet at the Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Antoni K, a former member for parliament, and Radosław O., a former board member of the defence firm, alongside three other former defence ministry employees.
The investigation, said CBA, concerns influence peddling and the falsification of documents relating to the Polish Armaments Group S.A. (PGZ) in 2016. The mismanagement of assets is said to have been of “a substantial value” and have led to “a direct risk of significant financial damage” to PGZ.
The defence industry giant was created by the Polish government in 2013. It is made up of more than 60 businesses with a total of 17,500 employees and has a combined annual revenue of PLN 4.5 billion (US $1.2 billion).
Polish newspaper Sieci broke the news that the CBA was investigating financial irregularities at PGZ in May 2018.
“A business-friendly system was created around one of the largest state-owned companies to siphon public money using ostensible contracts, fictitious training, [and] inflated invoices. the network reached the level of PGZ’s management and the political cabinet of the Ministry of National Defense,” Sieci said.
At the time, the Defence Ministry denied the allegations reported by Sieci.
Sieci also claims that the CBA investigated money which flowed into the accounts of entities associated with Bartłomiej M. for organizing events which in some cases never occurred, and in others were massively inflated.
Mariusz Antoni K. is also suspected of conducting illegal lobbying activities for financial gain, according to Poland’s public broadcaster TVP.
CBA officers are still conducting searches of over 30 locations in relation to the investigation.
OCCRP | January 29, 2019