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Former Minister of Finance: I would not have given a positive opinion if I had known that funds from the Justice Fund would go to the CBA

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Former Finance Minister Teresa Czerwińska testified on Friday before the Pegasus investigative committee. She admitted that if the proposal to change the financial plan of the Justice Fund had written that PLN 25 million would be transferred to the CBA, she would not have issued a positive opinion.

On Friday, the Parliamentary investigative committee for Pegasus questioned the former Minister of Finance and previously deputy minister in this ministry, Teresa Czerwińska. It was as a deputy minister in 2017 that Czerwińska gave a positive opinion on the request of the Ministry of Justice to change the financial plan of the Justice Fund.

When asked what she knew about changing the financial plan of the Justice Fund, she replied that changing the financial plan was a fairly standard activity. – Such activities are carried out several to a dozen times a year. In my time, there were dozens of these funds. Therefore, the administrator naturally had the statutory rights to request a change to the financial plan, said Czerwińska.

She emphasized that the procedure was such that the administrator turned to the Minister of Finance and presented justification for this change in the plan. – There was frequent contact at the level of substantive departments to clarify issues that raised doubts and if there were any, then the administrator wrote a letter in the appropriate planning form to the minister responsible for budget matters and, after substantive analysis by the relevant department, presented an application to the minister with appropriate justification and then an issue was issued consent to change the financial plan – explained Czerwińska.

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Teresa Czerwińska during the meeting of the parliamentary investigative committee on surveillance of the Pegasus systemPAP/Marcin Obara

She emphasized that in accordance with the Public Finance Act, in order to change the financial plan, the administrator must obtain the consent of the Minister of Finance, but also the opinion of the Parliamentary Public Finance Committee.

Czerwińska: the procedure for changing the financial plan was not privileged

The former minister added that the application regarding the FS was preceded by consultations at the level of substantive departments of both ministries. – If I remember correctly, it was well-justified, well-motivated, because there was an amendment to the Executive Penal Code (…), which significantly expanded both the catalog of the fund and the entities to which financing from this fund could be directed – Czerwińska said.

When asked whether she was not surprised by such a quick pace of work, because the application was submitted to the Ministry of Finance on September 14, and on September 15 it was dealt with by the Public Finance Committee, she pointed out that the Sejm committee is convened by its chairman, and Ministry of Finance is only informed about the date of the meeting.

She pointed out that “nothing here has raised any alert that there is a change in the financial plan.” – The procedure for changing the financial plan in this case, in the state of knowledge we had at that time, was standard, it was not an accelerated or extraordinary procedure, or in any other way privileged – Czerwińska testified.

Czerwińska: Woś presented the plan and justification

The witness was asked whether she talked to anyone from the Ministry of Justice in 2017 about the change to the financial plan of the Justice Fund requested by the ministry at that time. She replied that she had talked at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance with the then Deputy Minister of Justice, Michał Wosiem.

– Minister Woś presented the plan and the justification for increasing the Fund's servicing, and this contact occurred because we had already received some version of this plan from the administrator, but there was no agreement on increasing the costs of servicing the Fund – said Czerwińska.

As she said, the conversation certainly took place before the meeting of the Public Finance Committee, where the motion to change the FS financial plan was submitted. – The conversation concerned the change of the financial plan, in part the management of the Fund, and could have taken place before the change, because the management of the Fund is also included in the change of the financial plan – the witness emphasized.

Teresa Czerwińska PAP/Marcin Obara

When asked whether, among other things, after talking to Wosio, she learned what the funds were to be spent on after changing the financial plan of the Justice Fund, she replied yes. She emphasized that the change in the financial plan concerned many items, including the costs of servicing the Fund. – So I could talk about the costs of servicing the Fund when changing the financial plan, PLN 25 million (…) was one of the changes to the financial plan – Czerwińska testified.

Czerwińska: I would not have given a positive opinion if I had known that funds from the Justice Fund would go to the CBA

When asked when she found out what the SF funds were spent on, she said that she only had knowledge that resulted from the audit report. NIK from mid-2018, which indicated that PLN 25 million was transferred to CBA. However, as she pointed out, she learned about the Pegasus system from media reports, when she was no longer the Minister of Finance.

Tomasz Trela ​​(Left) asked Czerwińska whether the transfer of PLN 25 million from the Justice Fund to the CBA for the purchase of Pegasus was consistent with the law at that time. – My belief when granting consent to change the financial plan was what was in the application, later a dispute arose between the Supreme Audit Office and the Minister of Justice regarding a specific expense – said Czerwińska.

Czerwińska, when asked whether if the application to change the financial plan of the Justice Fund had written that PLN 25 million would be allocated to the CBA, she would have issued a positive opinion, she replied that she “would not issue such an opinion.”

She admitted that if the administrator transferred funds contrary to the consent of the Minister of Finance and the opinion of the Parliamentary Public Finance Committee, it was a violation of public finance discipline. – However, it was the execution of expenses by the administrator, for which the administrator is responsible. At the stage of changing the financial plan and our analysis of the compliance, legality and purposefulness of the fund's tasks, this was consistent and was never questioned by the Supreme Audit Office or the Chief Commissioner for Public Finance Discipline – explained the interrogated person.

Main photo source: PAP/Marcin Obara



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