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Poland arrests ex-head of financial watchdog on corruption charges

International Business
Wed, 28 Nov 2018

Warsaw: Poland on Tuesday arrested the former head of its state financial regulator on suspicions of corruption following reports he sought a bribe from the billionaire owner of several Polish banks.

The CBA anti-corruption agency announced it had detained Marek Chrzanowski in Warsaw and was transferring him to the southern city of Katowice where he was to be indicted.

Chrzanowski, 38, was forced to step down as chairman of the KNF financial regulator on November 13 after the bribery allegations were made.

Billionaire Polish banker Leszek Czarnecki accused Chrzanowski of soliciting bribes in exchange for favourable treatment for Czarnecki's troubled Getin Noble Bank.

Czarnecki had recorded his meeting with Chrzanowski at the KNF in March and the tapes were made public two weeks ago following a report focused on the allegations published by Poland's liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Czarnecki's legal team forwarded the allegations to prosecutors, saying Chrzanowski had suggested the banker hire a lawyer to handle legal issues for his Getin Noble Bank and then showed him a note saying "1 per cent".

Czarnecki's legal team asserted that the "1 per cent" referred to one per cent of the value of the bank, equivalent to 9.3 million euros ($10.5 million).

Chrzanowski has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

The scandal has triggered market jitters in Poland and prompted the central bank to make assurances about the stability of the country's financial sector. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked prosecutors to investigate.

Morawiecki, himself coming from a banking background, on Friday named former banker Jacek Jastrzebski to replace Chrzanowski as KNF chairman.

A country of 38 million people, Poland can boast one of the EU's most rapidly growing economies with output expected to expand by 4.2 per cent this year, according to the World Bank.

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