Poland’s Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) announced on Monday morning that it has detained six people as part of an investigation into the mismanagement of assets “with a substantial value,” causing “a direct risk of significant financial damage” to the Polish Armaments Group (PGZ), the country’s largest defence firm.
Among those detained is the former spokesman for the Ministry of Defense Bartłomiej M., a former member of the board of PGZ, Radosław O., former MP Mariusz Antoni K., as well as three former employees of the Ministry of National Defense and PGZ, according to a statement by the CBA.
The investigation, it said, concerns mismanagement, influence peddling and the falsification of documents in relation to by PGZ contracts.
The detainees will be transferred to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Tarnobrzeg, where they will be charged, the CBA said, adding that its officers have conducted searches in over 30 locations as part of the investigation.
According to Polish broadcaster TVP.info, the Bureau’s suspicions were raised when a multimedia exhibition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Workers’ Defence Committee failed to take place and a concert that was due to be held in Piłsudski Square in Warsaw was in fact held at the nearby Hotel Victoria.
The remuneration for organising the events mostly went to the accounts of entities associated with the former Defence spokesman Bartłomiej M. or his associates.
Responding to news of the arrests the Ministry of Defence said it is cooperating fully with the CBA in its investigation, while a spokesperson for the ministry pointed out that the Polish Armaments Group is a separate institution to the defense ministry itself.
The case was first reported on in the Sieci weekly newspaper in May. According to the publication, “it perfectly demonstrates how 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 contained in Sieci’s report and emphasized that the CBA had cleared Bartłomiej M. of all criminal charges relating to the matter.
The Polish Armaments Group was established in 2013 in a move to consolidate the country’s armaments industry. The group comprises more than 60 businesses with a total of 17,500 employees and combined annual revenue of PLN 4.5 billion (EUR 1.05 billion, USD 1.19 billion).