Head of Polish Financial Oversight Commission resigns amid corruption allegations
The Chairman of the Polish Financial Oversight Authority (KNF) Marek Chrzanowski handed his resignation from the post on Tuesday, informs the Polish Press Agency (PAP). He said that his decision was motivated by his "responsibilty for effective functioning of financial market oversight and the need for swift solving of this issue for the benefit of the state". Polish daily newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" informed on Tuesday that Chrzanowski is believed to have submitted a corruption offer to a private bank owner Leszek Czarnecki.
"In response to the unfair and unsubstantiated attacks and accusations brought against me by Mr Leszek Czarnecki, that are undoubtedly a provocation concocted by a conspiracy aimed at discrediting me as the KNF chief, in order to exert pressure on the thoroughly ran process of restructuring of one of the banks, bearing responsibilty for effective functioning of financial market oversight and the need for swift solving of this issue for the benefit of the state, I'm handing in resignation from my office," Marek Chrzanowski announced on Tuesday.
He informed that he has taken "legal action in regard to false accusations" undermining, as he put it, his good name and "public trust" in the institution he chaired.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accepted Chrzanowski's resignation on Tuesday evening.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki earlier demanded an investigation of reports that Chrzanowski asked Getin Noble Bank to hire a specific lawyer and pay him a salary equal to one percent of the bank's capitalisation, around $10.5 million.
In return the mid-tier lender would receive "support" from the regulator, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and the Financial Times reported, citing a deposition to Polish prosecutors from Getin Noble Bank's owner, Leszek Czarnecki.
Reuters has seen a copy of the deposition.
The prosecutor's office confirmed that a representative of Czarnecki had notified it that he suspected a crime had been committed related to corruption.
Getin Noble Bank declined to comment.
KNF denied any wrongdoing and said information regarding an offer by its chairman to favour Getin Noble Bank in exchange for a payment of around 40 million zloty ($10.5 mln) was not true.
"Such a proposal was not offered during any meeting with Mr Czarnecki," a KNF spokesman said in a statement.
The lawyer named in the deposition, Grzegorz Kowalczyk, said the first he had heard about the allegations was in the media.
"I have never consented to anyone seeking a job for me at Getin. I have never talked to Leszek Czarnecki. I know Marek Chrzanowski privately," he told Reuters.
Chrzanowski, a former central banker, was nominated to his post in 2016 by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has said one of the pillars of its fiscal policy is fighting corruption in value-added tax collection.
Before his reported resignation, the prime minister summoned Chrzanowski to a meeting on Wednesday with the minister responsible for Poland's secret services, the head of the prime minister's office, Michał Dworczyk, said on Twitter.
The meeting was later cancelled, he told Polsat News broadcaster.
"The prime minister has asked the services and the prosecutor's office to take quick and decisive action in order to check and clarify information concerning the KNF chairman", government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska said.
Shares in Getin Noble Bank, which is Poland's no. 9 lender by assets, have fallen 66 percent this year, and were down by more than 5 percent by 1545 GMT.
The bank has a credit portfolio with a significant number of bad loans, some of them foreign-currency denominated. Czarnecki had promised to pump one billion zlotys into the bank this year and next.