An Austrian businessman has accused Polish leader Jarosław Kaczyński of committing ‘large scale fraud’ for allegedly failing to pay him for work he did on an abandoned Warsaw real estate project.
The story came to media attention when the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza published transcripts of a secretly taped conversation between Kaczynski and Austrian businessman Gerald Birgfellner, in which he is heard cancelling the project because it would be too politically sensitive for the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) to be seen to be involved in property development.
State-run bank Pekao was meant to help finance the investment preparations for up to €15.5 million and offer credit for around €300 million, the newspaper said.
In the tapes, Kaczyński is heard saying that the project had to be stopped because of possible criticism from the media and the opposition. Kaczyński says that should it be revealed that “the party is building a skyscraper … it would be indefensible. It is politics.”
In other recording, dating back to July 2018, Kaczyński is heard saying that the project would only go ahead if PiS win the Warsaw local elections. However in October, the nationalist conservative party was beaten by Civic Platform, who put the €300 million project on hold.
Birgfellner then approached Kaczyński seeking remuneration for the 14 months of preparatory work he had put into the building the twin 190 metre towers.
According Gazeta Wyborcza Birgfellner’s payment “was supposed to amount to 3 percent of the investment value, or about €9 million.” However, Kaczynski, who was apparently representing Srebrna, the company that owns the land and has close ties to PiS, refused to pay Birgfellner for his work.
Kaczynski claimed in a recorded conversation that he has no influence on Srebrna’s decision, and the only way for Birgfellner to claim his money is to take the company to court. “I do not want to cheat anyone. I know it was done for us. I would like to pay, but there must be a basis in the papers – says Kaczyński in the recording.
Birgfellner’s lawyers have notified the Warsaw prosecutor’s office of a potential crime on Kaczynski’s part, Wyborcza said.