On June 21 at 10.30am, a Gulfstream G550 painted in black and red stripes is about to land at the Warsaw Airport. It is the first out of two small aircrafts for VIPs, which will reach the Polish Army. This purchase cannot be stopped, but the future of the medium-size aircraft contract remains uncertain, as several companies are trying to put a stop to the agreement signed between MON (Polish Ministry of Defense) and Boeing. The matter has been revealed by a Polish weekly wSieci, and involves several small companies from several different countries, with backing from an influential businessmen and lobbyists.
The Civic Platform (PO) politicians have been most vocal about the bid, trying to blame opponents for their own failures. The fact remains that MON under the former Minister Tomasz Siemoniak representing PO had changed its bids for Caracale helicopters numerous times and in many strange ways to satisfy Airbus. This year’s purchase of aircrafts for VIPs, following years of inaction and neglect, has met with loud objections against the shift from a bidding process to a direct purchase from the manufacturer, despite the fact that such decision was fully compliant with the law on public spending.
The details of the above decision made by the Arms Inspectorate can be found in the publication wSieci. Here it is just worth mentioning that out of four companies willing to bid for the aircraft contract, Polish Megmar failed to provide necessary documentation, Aerospace International Group in consortium with Assa-Poland was dismissed by Military Counterintelligence as “unable to guarantee secure delivery,” and Czech Glomex rather than applying in consortium with Lufthansa, as previously declared, ended up applying on its own, without the backing of the Germans. Therefore, MON began negotiations with the American Boeing.
Those negotiations prompted three complaints to the National Appeals Chamber:
1. From Aerospace International Group (AIG) – a company with headquarters in Bratislava. Board members of this company include Polish citizens Ivan Ivanov and Elżbieta Wilczewska. As it turned out, the company was backed by two firms with western names from Dublin but with the management in Moscow, both belonging to the Russian government.
2. From Jet Business International Corporation (JBI) from London, managed by a celebrity businessman Steve Varsano, who is friendly with Russian oligarchs and makes business in the East (Russia).
3. From Swiss Alternhein Aviation AG, ran by Mariusz Breś.
On surface it seems fine, although the latter two companies appeared only after the matter was resolved. However, looking more closely, it turned out that Steve Varsano of JBI serves as director of another company operating as Jet Business International that is registered in a tax heaven. Varsano took over this position from no one else than mentioned above Ivan Ivanov of AIG, who is now also a board member of Loyd’s Aviation Group, with other board members being Aaron Frenkel and Marek Antończyk, who is also a board member of Golden Star Estate, together Elżbieta Wilczewska from AIG. Unsurprisingly, Golden Star Estate’s chairman and board member is Mariusz Breś from the Swiss company, which purchased the Warsaw Marriott Hotel from a company controlled by Aaron Frenkel.
There are more connections; all are detailed in wSieci. It is easy to notice that it all seems to evolve around Aaron Frenkel. Several years ago, Frenkel found himself very much in a public eye in Poland. As Marek Dochnal testified, Frenkel was one of the alleged sponsors of President Alaksander Kwaśniewski at the time of his administration. There were speculations that Frenkel managed secret Swiss bank accounts of the left-wing politicians.
Internationally, Frenkel is known as a businessman, philanthropist, and one of the most influential people. His name figured in many large-scale aviation transactions at the times of the Soviet Union. He was decorated with the highest medals in Russia and France. He himself confirmed to be a co-author of early 1990s “Operation Bridge,” which helped thousands of Jews move from the Soviet Union to Israel through Warsaw, with the assistance of the communist Ministry of Interior and Administration (MSW), and UOP (Polish Office for State Protection). Frenkel is the main financial supporter and the Chairman of Limmud FSU, the world’s largest organization uniting Russian-speaking Jews.
Do the companies he is connected with want to prevent the Polish Army from purchasing aircrafts from Americans? This is a question for the intelligence services, which, hopefully, are trying to find the answer to this question. Evidence of a conspiracy seems rather obvious, when considering that two of the filed complaints, signed by representatives of two different allegedly competing companies, both 20-page long, are almost carbon copies, with only few random words different.
On June 23, 2017 the court considers an appeal by the Arms Inspectorate against the verdict of the National Appeals Chamber holding that the contract with Boeing violates the law. However, the public should know what happens behind the scenes, as it concerns not only the public money, but also the safety of the public officials and security of the Polish state.
Photo: The Full Gull