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Lex TVN. Tomasz Zdzikot – who is the lawyer who issued a favorable expert opinion for the acquisition of TVN

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A former political hawk, a PiS councilor decommunising Warsaw streets, and today a securing lawyer and president of Poczta Polska – this is how our interlocutors describe Tomasz Zdzikot. Six years ago, as the deputy head of the legal division at the National Broadcasting Council, he signed a legal opinion favorable to the American owners of TVN. It was on this basis that the council allowed in 2015 the acquisition of TVN shares by a company registered in the Netherlands.

Most of the items in the CV of nearly 42-year-old Tomasz Zdzikot are closely related to the political career of his patron, i.e. the current Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak.

– Iron member of Mariusz’s team. When PiS was founded, few lawyers came to us, and Tomasz was there from the very beginning. As a young law graduate, he was soon worth its weight in gold – says the Law and Justice politician tvn24.pl.

He graduated from the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in law, and later began doctoral studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences. He also passed the exam for a legal advisor, although there are no traces of his professional practice on the Internet.

A decommunizing councilor

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A dozen or so years ago, as a young city councilor, he was an intensive blogger. This is how he presented himself: “Ciemnogrodzkie views, sometimes even clericalism and zoological nationalism.” First, he was an assistant to the vice-president of Warsaw, Stanisław Skrzypek. In 2006, he was promoted to the vice-mayor of Śródmieście, taking over the office of Mariusz Błaszczak, who then passed to the government of Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.

– Mariusz’s parents knew Zdzikot’s parents. Their fathers worked together in the FSO car factory in Żerań – a PiS politician says tvn24.pl.

“Gazeta Stołeczna” then wrote about him: “Zdzikot wants to de-communizate and disubekize, because he believes that due to the lack of settlements in the Third Republic of Poland, people received a clear signal ‘cool, cool, the communists were not so bad'”.

When the government of Jarosław Kaczyński collapsed after the early elections in 2007 and his party joined the opposition, Tomasz Zdzikot briefly found himself as vice-president of the “Nowy Świat” Banking and Financial Center, a company in which the State Treasury and the University of Warsaw Foundation had shares at that time.

The company manages the building which, before the fall of communism, housed the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party. In free Poland, the Warsaw Stock Exchange operated there for the first nine years. Industrial Development Agency.

Opinions favorable to TVN

The next stop on Tomasz Zdzikot’s career was the National Broadcasting Council. Here, from 2008, he worked in the legal department, of which he later became the deputy head. On Tuesday, “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” revealed that Zdzikot signed the expert opinions enabling the takeover of TVN by the American investor, ie Scripps Networks Interactive. The direct buyer of TVN was the subsidiary Polish Television Holding BV, registered in the Netherlands. The chairman of the Council then analyzed whether it is possible under Polish law, which – importantly – has not changed to this day.

– Six years ago, it was decided by legal expert opinions that in the light of media law it was not an American company, but a European one – said “DGP” Jan Dworak, who was the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council in 2015.

Zdzikot said then that the acquisition by a foreign entity of shares in a company with a Polish license “requires the permission of the chairman of the National Council, issued on the basis of a resolution of the National Broadcasting Council”. Such “permission cannot be granted” if foreign capital takes over 49 percent of the shares. The author of the opinion stipulated that the sale of a company with a license without the required permit “will be invalid under the law”.

Osiecki from “DGP” about the change of mind on TVN by the National Broadcasting CouncilTVN24

The authors of “DGP” pointed out that with regard to the acquisition of TVN by Scripps, two elements of Zdzikot’s expertise are of key importance.

He stated that the approval of the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council for the transaction “will not be required” for entities from the European Economic Area, as the limit of 49 percent does not apply to them.

I stressed that “the fact that the company is controlled by an entity outside the EEA does not deprive the company of the qualities of a foreign person established in an EEA State, and therefore it is not subject to the requirement to obtain the permit in question”. Adding that “to consider as decisive the origin of a non-EEA parent company” would be contrary to the intention of the legislator.

Zdzikot’s opinion does not raise any doubts among lawyers, neither in 2015 nor at present. It is now being questioned by politicians of the party in power, and the head of the National Broadcasting Council, Witold Kołodziejski he calls such an interpretation of the law a fiction.

From the National Broadcasting Council to the Ministry of Interior and Administration

Zdzikot’s career accelerated after he returned to power by Law and Justice in 2015. First, the media mentioned him among the iron candidates for the position of the Masovian voivode. He was strongly supported by Mariusz Błaszczak, as well as Jacek Sasin, who a year earlier ran for the office of the mayor of Warsaw.

– [Zdzikot – red.] He is one of the main authors of my program, he is a man of enormous knowledge and experience – then the candidate Sasin said in an interview with “Gazeta Stołeczna”.

Ultimately, however, Zdzikot took over the position of deputy minister of internal affairs and administration of Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, who headed the ministry at that time. He was responsible for matters of state registers and computerization. He also got a delicate mission from the minister.

This is evidenced by the archival message that can be found on the website of the Ministry, dated February 4, 2016, which reads: “The Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, acting on the basis of the Public Finance Act, appointed the Audit Committee. Tomasz Zdzikot, Undersecretary of State became the chairman. in the Ministry of Interior and Administration “. The Committee has an advisory function to the minister “in ensuring the functioning of adequate, effective and efficient management control and effective internal audit”.

– This is control over the 10 billion budget of the ministry and its subordinate formations. The tradition of our ministry is that the committee does not detect anything significant – explains an experienced official.

Along with Zdzikot, the Audit Committee was composed, among others, of General Andrzej Pawlikowski, head of the Government Protection Bureau, who resigned a year later. This happened after the media revealed that an officer of the Government Protection Bureau, subordinate to Pawlikowski, took part in the scandal related to PKP SA Contrary to the regulations of the Polish State Railways, the management board concluded a lucrative contract with a company that had never conducted any activity, and was associated with PiS politicians and former heads of services. The criminal trial in this case continues to this day, and the defendants are members of the management board of PKP and, inter alia, BOR officer and former deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Agency.

Minister of cyber troops

When Mariusz Błaszczak unexpectedly replaced Antoni Macierewicz as the Minister of National Defense in 2018, he took his “team” with him, incl. Deputy Ministers Tomasz Zdzikot and Sebastian Chwałek.

In the new ministry, Zdzikot began to cover, inter alia, the cybersecurity division and the creation of a new type of armed forces in the Polish army, i.e. cyber.

– Here in Tomek there was nothing of the old, belligerent councilor. As a clerk, he is extremely conservative. Before making any decision, he must have several legal opinions on his desk – says our interlocutor from the Ministry of Defense.

General Karol Molenda became the representative of the Ministry of National Defense for the creation of cyberspace defense troops.

– We perceived it as being open to the specialists of the new management of the ministry, i.e. Minister Błaszczak and Deputy Minister Zdzikot. Molenda started his service in the Military Information Services – comments an employee of the ministry.

The interviewees of tvn24.pl emphasize that Zdzikot worked a lot in the ministry, he left behind good memories.

– Competent. You just have to remember that Błaszczak and his people replaced Antoni Macierewicz and, inter alia, the famous Misiewicz, whom the generals worshiped like a minister. The crossbar did not hang high – we hear.

Signatures in the Post Office

In April last year, Zdzikot received another special mission: as president of Poczta Polska, he was to prepare the company for the so-called envelope choices.

– There was no chance that we would be able to carry it out. Maybe they would continue today. The president did not pay attention to the realities, he pushed to the elections taking care of his safety – a trade unionist who has been working in the Post Office for years tells us.

During one of the first meetings, President Zdzikot scored pluses for the staff. It was he who personally came up with the idea that each election package should be delivered to the mailboxes by a pair of postmen.

– Because how to prove later that the packages actually got into the mailbox, if the voter claims that he did not receive them? But it was a solution to just one of the million problems that were caused by the envelope elections prepared in a hurry, union representatives tell us. Among the unsolved at that time, they indicate, inter alia, no solutions for a situation where one person would collect packages for the whole family and then fill it without informing other household members about it.

Ultimately – as revealed by Szymon Jadczak in tvn24.pl – preparations for the envelope elections cost the Post Office PLN 70 million.

But it was also Tomasz Zdzikot, as the president of Poczta, who asked the ministries of the treasury and finance to reimburse the company for the costs incurred.

– Because he’s a lawyer, he knows what responsibility means. Inside the company, we laugh that by demanding payment, the president launched an avalanche of events, which resulted in the report of the Supreme Audit Office, as well as notifications to the prosecutor’s office on, inter alia, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki – says an experienced postal worker, asking for anonymity. In this case, the Chamber’s notification also concerned the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Michał Dworczyk, and ministers, Jacek Sasin and Mariusz Kamiński.

Main photo source: TVN24

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