European Parliament asked to probe allegations against ‘corrupt’ Polish tax authorities

| June 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

IMG_1654By Martin Banks
The newly elected European Parliament will be asked to examine alleged abuse of preventive detention measures by “politically motivated” Polish tax police and judicial authorities.

A former UK Europe minister says the practice does “serious damage” to Polish businesses and the country`s international image.

The move follows the backlash against European Union immigrant workers which has seen the rise of populist nationalist political parties in Europe.

Parties such as the Front National in France and UKIP in the UK topped the polls as they campaigned against influxes of immigrants.

These include Polish workers who,it is claimed, are unable to find work in Poland because of the “anti-business hostility” of local bureaucracies said to have with links to tax police, judicial prosecutors, local media and politicians. This secretive network is known as Uklad in Polish.

The use of preventive detentions to arrest and imprison people without charge has already been condemned by Transparency International and the Council of Europe.

Now MEPs, including new Polish deputies, will be asked to examine the problem and make recommendations to the European Commission for advice and if necessary action against Warsaw so that Polish businesses can operate normally “without fear of politically motivated raids and arrests that stifle entrepreneurship in Poland.”

The issue will be the subject of a conference at the Brussels Press Club on 9 July.

Letters will also be sent to Polish, German and UK MEPs and the media in Poland.

The allegations have come to the fore following the case of Marek Kmetko (pictured), a Polish-born businessman.

The Polish tax police opened an investigation into Kmetko, accusing his wife of money laundering, a move he says was “just a political attack against me”.

In September 2010, the Wroclaw Prosecutor’s Office asked the German police to investigate the Kmetkos and their schoolgirl daughter for alleged money laundering.

The German police did as requested and ordered searches of all the Kmetko accounts and paper held at his head office in Berlin. But they found nothing and wrote saying the case had been discontinued. The Wroclaw State Prosecutor also dropped the case.

But the prosecution authorities in Wroclaw kept going.

Kmetko’s businesses were raised and one of the women they arrested late in 2013 was Dagmara Natkaniec. She lives in Berlin with her 14-year-old daughter, Sandra, who attends a local German school. She works for Kmetko but has no executive responsibility or knowledge of his operations in Poland.

Kmetko said: “Nonetheless she was detained and her daughter has been without a mother for several months. She is willing to post bail and report to the relevant police authorities and return to her duties as a mother but the Wroclaw Prosecutor refuses this humanitarian gesture.”

Polish justice ministry figures show that between 2001 and 2007 about 90 per cent of the public prosecutor´s applications for pre trial detention were allowed by the courts.

According to law firm Clifford Chance prosecutors and courts impose pre trial detention automatically “without providing adequate justification”.

Organizations such as the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe and Transparency International have said in the past that the Polish tax police system acts “beyond the rules” of normal European Union law and order.

The European Court of Human Rights has also criticised Poland for imposing excessive lengths of pre trial detention and failing to provide adequate reasons why this is deemed necessary.

This echoes concerns raised by the CoE in a 2007 resolution encouraging Poland to take steps to deal with “systematic problem concerning the excessive length of detention on remand”.

A TI source said: “Businessmen can be held in preventive detention for months at a time without any charges laid so that their businesses are utterly destroyed while the executives are rotting in prison. The object is very clear to force money out of businesses whether legally or not and to ensure that the tax police get their own private cut.”

The tax authorities in Poland have also been accused of taking a cut of 8 to 10% of any money it obtains from those found guilty of not paying their taxes.

The two cases involving Sandra Natkaniec and Kmetko has been taken up by Denis MacShane, a former Europe minister in the UK, who said: “This is an unfinished story and the newly elected European Parliament will be asked to look into the Kmetko case.”

“One thing is certain, that having survived the pressure of communist bureaucracy and then some of the more corrupt and disreputable political-bureaucratic practices that were on display in Poland in the first period after the end of communism in the 1990s Kmetko is determined not to give in.”

MacShane added: “There is a wider interest at stake. The whole of the rest of Europe needs to see Poland’s economy flourish and grow. Millions of Poles had to seek work in western European countries and their arrival en masse because the business atmosphere in their own country is so hostile to dynamic entrepreneurs has provoked great tension and resentment in other EU member states whose citizens object to so many foreigners arriving and flooding the labour market with cheaper workers.

“This has given rise to what the German finance minister calls “fascism” in France and to a new xenophobic and anti-European political movement in Britain that may yet succeed in organizing a referendum which will take the UK out of the EU.

“The Polish authorities need to ensure that Poland stops being seen as the enemy of its entrepreneurs.”

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Category: A Frontpage, European elections, European Parliament, Poland, Tax dodging, Taxation, Transparency, World

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