Former President of the Polish Financial Supervisory Authority (KNF), Marek Chrzanowski, has been arrested by the Polish Anti-Corruption Agency (CBA) amid accusations that he solicited a bribe from billionaire banker Leszek Czarnecki.
Chrzanowski was detained in Warsaw and will be transferred to the southern city of Katowice to be charged, Polish media reported, adding that the CBA had carried out a search of Chrzanowski’s apartment as well as the headquarters of the KNF, of which Chrzanowski was head. In addition, witnesses have been questioned, and documents, electronic equipment and data have been seized.
Chrzanowski stepped down as head of the KNF, which safeguards banking practices in Poland, on 13 November, after the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper published a report alleging that he had sought a multi-million dollar bribe from Czarnecki. In return, Czarnecki alleges that Chrzanowski offered him favourable treatment for his banks, which are facing stricter capital requirements and restructuring under government plans.
Czarnecki says that he has a secretly taped recording of a meeting he had with Chrzanowski during which the latter demanded he hire a certain lawyer who should be paid 1 percent of the value of Getin Noble Bank, which is owned by Chrzanowski. This would amount to some PLN40mn or €9.3 million euros.
Chrzanowski, who has denied the allegations, was replaced at the head of the KNF by former banker Jacek Jastrzebski on Friday.
“The former head of the KNF will respond to charges against prosecutors in Katowice,” a spokesman for the CBA said.
Chrzanowski was appointed as the director of the Financial Supervision Authority in 2016 by the ruling Law and Justice party. He was recommended for the post by the head of the National Bank of Poland, Adam Glapinski, who has spoken out against Czarnecki and his lawyer accusing them of trying to “destabilize the Polish banking system” with their allegations.
Glapinski also sought to reassure Poles as well as international markets that Polish banks are safe. “What’s happening may be a concern for regular folks, but not for bankers because they know that Poland’s financial industry is very stable,” he said on Sunday.