I have the right of first refusal, but I don’t know if I will buy it – this is how Bartłomiej Obajtek refers to the consent to buy an apartment in a historic villa belonging to the State Forests. The consent was given by Józef Kubica, director general of Lasy, associated with Sovereign Poland. This happened – as the “Black and White” reporter found out – contrary to the opinion of the team that assesses the validity of selling real estate belonging to the State Forests.
Bartłomiej Obajtek is the brother of the president of Orlen. He has also been an employee of the State Forests for over 19 years – according to his biography on the official website of the Forests. In 2018, he was promoted to director of the regional directorate in Gdańsk. Fifteen forest districts are subordinate to him, including the Gdańsk Forest District, which is based in Gdynia at Morska Street. Right next to it there is a forester’s lodge entered into the municipal register of monuments. The property belongs to the State Forests. One of the four apartments in the historic villa is rented by Bartłomiej Obajtek. This is confirmed by our informant from the State Forests who wishes to remain anonymous. This address is also listed in the Central Registration and Information on Business as the place of mail delivery for Bartłomiej Obajtek’s company. He runs the “Szlacheckie Gniazdo” restaurant.
– Obajtek has wanted for a long time for this apartment to be given the “redundant” status – explains our interlocutor from the headquarters of the State Forests.
Why is it important? Article 40a of the Act on State Forests allows for the sale of properties deemed unsuitable. Therefore, if foresters mark a property as “unnecessary”, it goes on the list for sale. And the right of pre-emption, in accordance with the provisions on forests, has the existing tenants. In other words, Bartłomiej Obajtek has the right of first refusal to buy the premises where Bartłomiej Obajtek lives. According to forest regulations, the tenant can benefit from a discount of up to 95 percent of the property value. Only if the State Forests does not exercise this right of pre-emption can the State Forests put such a property up for open sale. What does Obajtek say about this?
– I didn’t receive a buyout offer. Or maybe there will be a different government soon and they will change their mind, for example, and what? I have the right of first refusal, but I don’t know if I will return, I don’t know the valuation. The forest district has not written a letter asking whether I want to buy it or not and on what terms and when – explains the brother of Orlen’s president in an interview with the “Czarno na white” reporter, Artur Warcholiński.
On November 24, “Gazeta Wyborcza” published an article in which we read that Obajtek may soon have the opportunity to buy one of the apartments in the 19th-century building. The author described that at the end of 2022, the Gdańsk Forest District decided that the building was unnecessary for further forest management, i.e. it met the requirement that the property could be purchased by an employee of the State Forests. Trade unionists from “Solidarity” expressed their opposition to the sale. “Wyborcza” then emphasized that for now the forest district does not have consent to the sale, because for the transaction to take place, the general director must give consent. There was no such consent back then.
Artur Warcholiński obtained a document dated December 5, 2023. This is the “List of properties intended for sale pursuant to Article 40a of the Forest Act” in the area of the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Gdańsk. It has only one location – the apartment of director Bartłomiej Obajtek. The document was approved by Józef Kubica, director general of the State Forests.
– The general director issues consent not for a name, but for a specific property. The director doesn’t even know who he’s selling to. This decision is dictated solely by economic reasons – explains Bartłomiej Obajtek.
Kubica approved the document against the opinion of a special team in the State Forests. This is a body established by order of the director general, i.e. by Kubica. It consists of nine people: five are trade unionists, the remaining four are officials of the general directorate. This team assesses the validity of the sale of real estate belonging to the State Forests, to put it simply – whether a given transaction is profitable is weighed by the balance of profits and losses. In the case of the premises where Obajtek lives, the team issued a negative opinion on the sale. The meeting took place on November 27. We asked director Kubica why he agreed to sell this property despite the negative opinion. By the time of publication, we had not received a response
– The general director may or may not take this into account – says Obajtek. It should be added that this building dates back to 1890 – it has been redundant for 30 years because a new headquarters was built nearby.
– Józef Kubica did not take this opinion into account, which I find outrageous – tells us an employee of the State Forests, who knows the backstage of this meeting of the real estate team.
– This is a very attractive location, ordinary people pay a lot of money to live in this area, and director Obajtek is doing everything to make the transaction happen at a favorable price – our informant is outraged.
Bartłomiej Obajtek disagrees with this statement. He believes that the location is not prestigious at all, and the property itself requires large financial outlays.
“This is a large forest district”
As reported by Onet, on the same day when Kubica gave consent to the sale of the property, Obajtek dismissed the current forest inspector in Gdańsk. In her place, he appointed the current deputy director Obajtek from the Regional Directorate of the State Forests. Why? Because the forester has been on sick leave for several weeks and would not be able to sign the contract with a notary.
– Mrs. Paulina was dismissed from her position, but she is still an employee of the State Forests. It is not up to me to presume whether the excused absence is justified – says Obajtek.
When asked why he appointed a new person to replace her, he replies: – This is a large forest district, complicated. I cannot entrust such enormous tasks to one person over a long period of time. An employee who currently performs the duties of a forester may terminate his duties after the replaced employee returns from absence.
When asked whether the forest inspector’s sick leave will be long, he states: – Unfortunately, yes, I know that it is heading in that direction.
We contacted the person staying at sick leave forest district. But she asked for the decision not to comment on the matter to be respected.
On November 28, director Kubica, in an official letter, ordered that in the case of the sale of real estate from forest resources, opinions of trade unions operating in a given organizational unit must be attached to applications. We saw this document. This is the result of this year’s inspection NIK regarding the sale of real estate by the State Forests. In the case of the building in which Obajtek lives, trade unionists from “Solidarity” issued a negative opinion, stating that such a sale would be “contrary to the interests of the forest district”.
Main photo source: Tytus Żmijewski/PAP