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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

President of PKP Cargo convicted of a corruption offence. “Presumption of Innocence”

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A former PiS MP, and currently the president of one of the key Polish companies, PKP Cargo, was sentenced by a non-final judgment to a suspended prison sentence of one year. The Minister of State Assets, which oversees the railways, is silent. The management of the PKP group replies that there are no obstacles for him to continue to perform his function “in accordance with the principle of the presumption of innocence”.

Dariusz S. – he did not allow his data to be disclosed – was sentenced together with Cezary Grabarczyk, a member of the Civic Coalition. Their trial took place in the Łódź district court for the last three years, ending on March 8. Both were charged with illegally obtaining a firearms licence. Both were convicted under the same articles of the Criminal Code: 231 paragraph 1 and 2 and art. 271, i.e. exceeding powers in order to gain benefits (according to Polish law, it is a corrupt act) and confirming untruths in documents.

“For personal gain”

Justifying the verdict verbally, Judge Michał Racięcki emphasized that the defendants “acted in order to gain personal benefits for themselves, consisting in obtaining a firearms permit”. The judge came to the conclusion that the examinations required before issuing a firearms license were fiction, and both politicians of the time were aware of this. It was the court finale of the case that we first revealed on tvn24.pl back in 2015.

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– The essence of the case and its whole difficulty consisted in verifying the truthfulness of the assurances of both defendants that the irregularities in the course of the examinations took place outside them. They were not aware of this, they did not know how these exams should be conducted, they acted in confidence to the then head of the Department of Administrative Proceedings of the Provincial Police Headquarters in Łódź. It was my job to verify what the gentlemen said. Since the conviction was passed, there is no doubt that I did not believe the claims of Mr. Grabarczyk and Dariusz S. – the judge justified.

In the opinion of the court, the accused took advantage of their position in society and political positions. The final sentence for each of them was: one year in prison suspended for one year and a fine of PLN 7.2 thousand.

President from the shadows

The media reporting on the sentence focused on Cezary Grabarczyk, an active politician of the Civic Coalition. The convicted Dariusz S. was mainly described as a “former Law and Justice politician” who won the parliamentary mandate three times – in 2005, 2007 and 2011. Until 2015, during the three terms he spent in the Sejm, he dealt mainly with defense matters.

Let us remind you that when in 2015 tvn24.pl revealed the backstage of exams for Cezary Grabarczyk and Dariusz S., the first politician resigned immediately. Prime Minister at the time Ewa Kopacz dismissed him as Minister of Justice.

Party consequences also fell on Dariusz S., who was suspended as a member of the club Law and Justice and withdrew from the parliamentary elections. Already after the victory of the United Right camp, at the beginning of 2016, he became the president of a company from the PKP Cargo – Connect group. Five years later – when he was already accused of abuse of power in order to gain benefits, and the trial had started – he additionally began to rule in PKP Cargo International, i.e. in the company controlling the railway freight carrier in the Czech Republic.

Since April last year this former politician manages the work of the management board of one of the key Polish companies, i.e. PKP Cargo.

Presumption of innocence

33 percent shares (the largest shareholder) in PKP Cargo are owned by PKP SA, which is wholly owned by the State Treasury. The company is supervised by the Ministry of State Assets headed by Jacek Sasin. We sent questions about Dariusz S. to the ministry on Monday. Until the publication of this material, we have not received a response.

Dariusz S. took over the reins at PKP Cargo in April last year, after winning the competition. So we asked whether the competition commission – dominated by representatives of PKP SA – knew that the candidate Dariusz S. had been accused by the prosecutor’s office of committing a corruption crime since December 2018.

– Dariusz S. made a statement about pending court proceedings – according to the reply sent to us by Bartłomiej Sarna from the commercialization, communication and promotion office of PKP SA

We also asked if and what consequences will be taken in connection with the sentence.

In accordance with the principle of the presumption of innocence, the judgment does not change the status of the president as a person with no criminal record, and the fact that court proceedings were conducted against him did not prevent him from participating in the qualification procedure

Pursuant to the Code of Commercial Companies, it is forbidden to perform management functions by persons who have been validly convicted of i.a. joke. 231 of the Penal Code. It is under this provision that Grabarczyk and Dariusz S. are not legally convicted.

ABW’s silence

The president of PKP Cargo, Dariusz S. himself, did not answer the questions sent to him by e-mail. It is known, however, that just like Cezary Grabarczyk, he will appeal against the judgment of the Łódź district court.

But the issue of the judgment also has an additional and non-obvious dimension related to war in Ukraine. The company, headed by Dariusz S., deals with the large-scale transport of military equipment and soldiers in Poland – not only Polish, but also NATO.

– I had a security clearance myself, i.e. I was thoroughly x-rayed by the Polish services, giving access to information protected by the law. Today, it is hard for me to imagine managing such a company without access to classified information – says Jakub Karnowski, who from 2013 to 2015 supervised the activities of PKP Cargo.

Meanwhile – in accordance with the practice of applying the Act on the protection of classified information – the mere filing of criminal charges results in the withdrawal of credentials. So we asked the head of the Internal Security Agency, Colonel Krzysztof Wacławek, what steps he took regarding the management of the company by first suspected, then accused and finally convicted Dariusz S.

After a week of waiting, the answer came. “We do not comment on the matter” – we were told by the press team of the largest Polish special service.

Theft of money at World Youth Day

As we have checked, in the recent past, the mere filing of criminal charges by the prosecutor’s office – i.e. not even drawing up an indictment or announcing a verdict in court – was the reason for the dismissal of the entire composition of the management board of PKP SA

This happened in 2017, when the media – first “Gazeta Wyborcza” and then tvn24.pl – revealed abuses at PKP SA

At that time, it was about “setting up” a public procurement for the company Sensus Group. It was established by a longtime accountant of the Law and Justice party. For more than a decade, the company did not perform any activities. Until after PiS won the elections in 2015, it changed hands. It was a retired colonel of the Intelligence Agency, an acquaintance of the then head of this formation and an acquaintance of the head of the Government Protection Bureau. The Management Board of PKP awarded this company a lucrative contract for protection during the World Youth Day.

Resignations without convictions

After the media revealed this story, action was taken Central Anti-Corruption Bureauand the prosecutor’s office launched an investigation. Finally, the allegations were formulated in 2017 against all members of the management board of PKP SA

– In view of the presentation of charges to the president and members of the management board of PKP SA regarding punishable mismanagement and unintentional damage of great value (…), a decision was made to dismiss Mirosław P. from the function of president of the management board of PKP SA and members of the management board – Cecylia L., Michał B. and Marek M. – officially announced the Ministry of Infrastructure (until 2019, PKP was subordinate to this ministry).

Interestingly, the trial in this case is still pending in the Warsaw court, and the verdict in the first instance has not yet been issued.

Main photo source: TVN24 archive

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