Published: May 13, 2015
Poles know precious little about their President. It’s high time to fill in the blanks in his biography.
Bronisław Komorowski likes to say that having been active in Polish politics for the last several decades; he is a well-known and well-tested commodity. Citing these reasons, he claims that unlike his opponents, he poses no risk to the existing status quo. But, nothing could be more misleading then this. Bronisław Komorowski’s biography is full of bewildering holes, unknowns, and conundrums, all of which begs the question: Who really is this man, and where did he come from? What we know for sure is that he is now vying for a second term as the President of Poland. As I will explain later, Komorowski’s political career gained momentum after a series of incidents, which should have by all estimates, ended his career in scandal.
In 1991, Bronisław Komorowski was the Deputy Minister of Defense in the government of Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, where he was responsible for Polish Military Counterintelligence Services. It is during this time, that he did things that raised many outstanding questions to this day.
Along with Maciej Rayzacher, a well-known actor and opposition activist from the times of the Communist Polish People’s Republic (abbr. PRL), Komorowski deposited a sum of 260,000 Deutschmarks, (enormous by Polish standards), into the so-called [Janusz] Paluch Bank. At the time, Komorowski was also Deputy Chief of the Ministry of National Defense (abbr. MON) Cultural Office. We should emphasize that at the time, this sum equaled the value of 750 ordinary monthly salaries (calculated at approximately 340 Deutschmarks each). This means that an ordinary Pole, not spending any of his salary, would need to work for 62 years to amass such a sum of money.
Even, if we presume that it was Maciej Rayzacher alone, who invested most of this money, the pinnacle question concerning the source of such a tidy sum, remains. For, Komorowski was never a businessman, and was paid a modest salary throughout his life. It is also known that he always complained of a chronic lack of money. On top of this, his wife was a stay-at-home-mom, who was not making money, as she was raising their five children. How was he able to amass such an astronomical sum of money having a modest income throughout his entire life?
His explanations, which we will cite below, are just as bizarre and surreptitious as was his decision to invest with a murky business that we are about to tell you about. Logic dictates that while it was not prudent to go ahead with this investment - to put it mildly - he did it anyhow.
Because of this very investment with Janusz Paluch (“the banker”) and because of Paluch’s shady backers, Komorowski became a person of interest to Polish counterintelligence - which notably at the time, was under his personal oversight. During this period, the chief of the Polish counterintelligence services was Komorowski’s own appointee, Colonel Lucjan Jaworski, who during the 1980’s gained repute for brutally crushing anti-communist opposition, and for suppressing underground publications, in particular.
In order to understand, how it came about that 260,000 Deutschmarks were invested, one must take a step back to Komorowski and Rayzacher’s internment in Oleszno. It was there that they came in contact with a certain military physician - named Michał Benedyk - who later turned out to be a communist informer, code-name “Tomaszewski.” While, Benedykt helped the interned activists to smuggle correspondences in-and-out of the detention camp, he also made sure that all these communications fell into the hands of the communist military intelligence.
It was precisely this “Tomaszewski”, who suggested to Komorowski and Rayzacher the get-rich-quick scheme through an investment in the Paluch’s pseudo-bank.
By all appearances, Janusz Paluch was nothing more then an ordinary employee of the Polish-government-owned PKP railway company, who possessed an ordinary education. Then, out of nowhere, he became an influential and well-respected businessman in the city of Bydgoszcz. At the beginning of the 1990s, he became the owner of the Nedpol Company, and one of the main sponsors of the Zawisza Bydgoszcz soccer club. He also became the go-to-guy to transfer money and to buy games. One has to be mindful, that Zawisza was a military soccer club.
From Paluch’s witness statements, and his court depositions - which have been going on for many years now - we learn, that not unlike the president of Amber Gold, Marcin Plichta, Paluch was just a pawn in a pyramid scheme created by the former officers of the communist military WSI [Pol. abbr. Wojskowe Służby Informacyjne – Military Intelligence Services]. They were the ones who decided what happened with the money invested in Paluch’s pseudo-bank.
The evidence pieced together during the Janusz Paluch’s investigation tells us further, that among the pseudo-bank’s clients were also General Zbigiew Zalewski, one-time head of the Pomeranian Military District and later head of Land Forces; General Roman Dysarz, one-time Chief of Staff of the Pomeranian Military District, and later president of the Zawisza Bydgoszcz soccer club; Colonel Zdzisław Czerwiński, former head of the “Wojsko Ludowe” [eng. “People’s Army”] magazine; and Colonel Lechosław Konieczyński, Regimental Chief of the Pomeranian Military District.
In addition to those named above, Paluch also personally identified an additional several dozen high-ranking officers of the military and military intelligence services as his clients. During the trial, he also testified that Colonels Janusz R. and Piotr B. recruited other high-ranking military and civilian clients - all associated, mind you, with the Ministry of Defense (abbr. MON).
His testimony reveals further, that it was the communist informer “Tomaszewski”, who recruited Komorowski and Rayzacher into the scheme, while the money was handed over to one of the above-mentioned Colonels.
The Paluch’s court hearings disclosed the total amount of the deposited money to be in the neighborhood of 9 million Deutschmarks. The investigation also identified 823 victims.
In reality, it is likely that “Paluch’s Bank” had in fact way more money at its disposal. The massive profits of the “bank’s” clients were supposed to be guaranteed by business interests formed by high-ranking military officials in the East. During his hearings, Paluch claimed, that “Russians paid in gold and jewelry,” this being the reason why “for 1,000 Deutschmarks deposited in [his] bank a client received 3 million Złoty per month [the old Złoty, is presently worth 300 Złoty].” The people, who backed the Paluch’s pseudo-bank, claimed that they bought radioactive materials in Russia, which they sold for huge profits. Clients from the military circles were also lured by large profits to be garnered through the sale of so-called “Red Mercury,” as well as weapons, and narcotics - all these were to be surreptitiously transported via channels developed by military intelligence services.
When Paluch was arrested in the spring of 1992, he was promised that he would be freed in no time - so long as he behaved reasonably. Before he was arrested, he hid at Mieczysław Wachowski’s sister’s apartment, a fact that says a lot about the “banker’s” connections. Of course, Plauch did defraud part of the money invested in his pseudo-bank. But, it was the WSI men who used the majority of the funds that were deposited. “Once I fell into the snare of the right people, it became impossible to say goodbye,” he testified in 2005.”
An “Operations’ Report” written on April 14, 1995 by Captain Piotr Lenart, from the Pomeranian Military District Counterintelligence Unit, tells us that in 1991 and 1992, Bronisław Komorowski and Maciej Rayzacher, transferred 260,000 Deutschmarks to Paluch’s pseudo-bank through “Tomaszewski,” who, in turn, was supposed to give the cash to Lt. Col. Janusz Rudziński.
That’s 260,000 Deutschmarks! Explaining years later, how it came about that they acquired and invested such a large sum of money, Bronisław Komorowski told Gazeta Wyborcza, in February, 2007, that “I had money stolen from me at the time, money that I had borrowed from my family and with which I entrusted Mr. Rayzacher, who, in turn, put the money into some pyramid scheme.”
Maciej Rayzacher, on the other hand, wrote in a letter to the Rzeczpospolita in March 2007, “In 1991 [Michał Benedyk] proposed that I ‘invest’ my savings in a pseudo-bank run by Mr. Paluch. The sums that I transferred by way of the Benedyk were many times smaller than the reported [260k DM], as my family’s entire fortune didn’t even amount to such a sum. […] Bronisław Komorowski loaned me a couple thousand for my ‘investment’ and that’s where his involvement in the affair ends.”
A careful reading of Rayzacher and Komorowski’s statements reveals a glaring contradiction. Not only in terms of the amount, but also in terms of who lent the money to whom, and to what end. In a statement to the Gazeta Wyborcza in 2007, Bronisław Komorowski claimed, “This had nothing to do with the WSI. Only that the WSI analyzed the affair, in which certain military officers also lost some money.”
Even when the WSI was officially carrying out its investigation, it had to do with former functionaries of this communist military intelligence service, as well as high-ranking staff officers on active duty. Often, they were personal acquaintances, and even colleagues of the WSI personnel who carried out the investigation. One can therefore conclude that this investigation was nothing more than a meaningless sham.
Alternately, one can conclude that the Polish military counterintelligence - at the time subordinated to Komorowski - could have played a role in helping certain people to get their lost money back. After all, these “certain” people in question were often former members of the communist intelligence services themselves.
The “WSI Liquidation Report” confirms that this is precisely what happened. Since Komorowski and Rayzacher did not have “the ability to demand return of their money through legal means,” and “the generals managed to re-acquire their money with the help of the military counterintelligence,” it would be strange if WSI did not help all of their associates at MON. But, Bronisław Komorowski remains silent on this matter. If the communist military intelligence services did help him though, we ought to ask ourselves if this help came with some sort of IOU?
An entirely different matter is the issue of investing such large sums of money. For example, we don’t know anything about their source, nor do we know how Komorowski, then Deputy Minister for Military Counterintelligence overseeing these secret services, came into their possession. Similarly, we know nothing about the means by which these monies found their way into Paluch’s fraudulent business. What we do know however is that this pseudo-bank turned out to be an outfit ran by former communist intelligence officers. The fact that such activities took place on Komorowski’s watch should be sufficient enough for his immediate dismissal.
In this context, we can venture to say that such shenanigans took place only, because the former communist intelligence officers who stood behind them, had assurances from their active-duty counterparts that no one would interfere with their shady dealings. One can imagine no better cover for a criminal enterprise then to have active-duty intelligence officers and the Ministry of Defense’s leadership as its clients.
A lot of evidence points to the fact that this was a business deal intended for specific people who knew- who they were, who pulled the strings, and who as a result, could count on unheard of, returns on their investment. Even if part of the money was defrauded, the people in the intelligence services, who stood behind this pseudo-bank, had many opportunities to ensure that the most important clients would never experience any losses, but rather, would incur incredible returns.
All of this prompts us to ask: Why did somebody, active in the opposition movement, who was taken to court for his activities, and who was interned during Martial Law, decide to entrust the position of the Chief of Military Counterintelligence to someone who with all his might, fought against the democratic opposition?
Why would somebody like this, invest large sums of money in a pseudo-bank, ran by members of the communist military intelligence services? Is it possible that these monies were not an ordinary deposit, but rather an “investment” that could cast some light on the career of the President of Poland?
All of this points to something that is either an uncanny frivolity, or a deliberate alliance. Here, regardless of which one of these scenarios is “true”, each is equally damning for the incumbent president.
Inconspicuously, none of these revelations impeded Bronisław Komorowski’s career. Take for example, his abysmal performance as the Deputy Defense Minister in the government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, where he failed at reforming the former communist Interior Military Services (abbr. WSW). Evidence for this can be found in the special parliamentary Sub-Committee report headed by Janusz Okrzesik. It was a crashing report that showed, in no uncertain terms, that during 1989-1991 Komorowski did not prevent the illegal destruction of the files amassed by the Communist WSW.
Further more, not only did he not remove people entangled with the intelligence services of the USSR, and GRU in particular, from the Polish intelligence services, but also, he consciously downplayed their role in carrying out repressive measures against the democratic opposition. For example, among people openly admired by Bronisław Komorowski, was no other than WSW’s chief Aleksander Lichocki, who gained fame for his role in the “Marszałkowa Affair”. He was “dismissed” only at the end of 1991, and here, with a full general’s pension.
We have to ask ourselves: Did Okrzesik’s Report reveal incompetence and omission only, or was it something completely different and far more sinister? Was Bronisław Komorowski an important person to the people from the communist military intelligence services already in the early 90s, and why? Did they put their weight behind him already then?
At a time when Poland’s current President Bronisław Komorowski was the Ministry of Defense’s Deputy Chief, and an “investor” in the “Paluch’s Bank”, the counterintelligence services were led by his protégé, Colonel Lucjan Jaworski. It is around this time that a new actor named Piotr Polaszczyk appeared on the stage. Polaszczyk gained “fame” in connection with the Pro Civili Foudation affairs, the shady Ursus tractor factory land deals, building boulevards on the Vistula River, and the Wołomin Credit Union Affair. He is the man in the famous picture snapped with Komorowski during the Jerzy Hoffman’s “Battle for Warsaw” movie premiere in 2011.
Polaszczyk is the key figure to our understanding of the “deals” that were being made in the 1990s by members of the communist intelligence services; at the expense of the Polish Armed Forces, and various institutions associated with the military. But, unlike Paluch’s shadow-banking scam of yesterdays, these new “deals” were much more refined, and brought far greater profits for the “investors” and for the “protectors”.
At the beginning of 1991, Lieutenant Polaszczyk, then the WSW officer, established contacts with conservative Polish politicians, among them, Jan Olszewski and Jan Parys. In the “WSI Liquidation Report” we read: “These contacts could have been a probe aiming at discerning the attitude of these politicians to the possible changes in the military and WSI”. The report stated that “Lt. Polaszczyk’s contacts with conservative politicians during 1991-1993 could have been inspired and directed by the former high-ranking officers and leadership of the WSW: Colonel Aleksander Lichocki (the last chief of the WSW), as well as Marek Wolny (the last chief of Section II in the III Headquarters, earlier head of Section III and WSW’s I-st General Headquarters)”.
Existing evidence suggests that during the early 1990s, the communist military intelligence services conducted an operation that was similar to the one carried out by the UOP [Pol. Abbr. Urząd Ochrony Państwa - Government Protection Bureau], that came to be known as the “Invigilation of the Conservatives”, which was led by the former SB (Polish communist secret police) Colonel Jan Lesiak.
It is highly unlikely that the then deputy Defense Minister Bronisław Komorowski was oblivious to the operations carried out by various services directly subordinated to him. Thus, it is highly probable, that even then, he knew who Piotr Polaszczyk was.
In 1993, Polaszczyk then already the Captain, appeared on the WSI’s radar during the course of the investigation code-named “Paczka” [eng. “Package”]
While on active duty with the WSI, he was involved in automotive industry, secured interests in the Polmot Trading Company, and was more a businessman than an intelligence officer. His colleagues from the service didn’t like it too much. More-so, because this particular scam was not being ran under WSI’s auspices, and his buddies were not making any money from kickbacks.
In the course of the operation "Package", WSI turned their attention to the Foundation Pro Civili. The foundation was established in July 1994 by two Austrian nationals: Manfred Hollestschk and Anton Kasco. By all estimates, both of them were either contractors, or full-time staff officers in the Austrian intelligence services. The fact that Capt. Polaszczyk’s wife became the Pro Civili’s Managing Director, suggests that he was preparing a cozy job for himself. And he did.
After his retirement in August of 1995, Captain Polaszczyk focused his attention on business, and became the Pro Civili’s Chairman of the Board. The foundation also became a popular destination for other intelligence officers who left the service as well - among them, Colonel Marek Wolny.
The fact that WSI investigated the Pro Civili, does not mean at all that its officers - those retired among them in particular - were not making fortunes from it. Just as in the case of Paluch’s shady para-bank, the core of its “investors” were after all their colleagues, for whom personal and business relationships turned out to be more important than service.
In 2007, Bronisław Komorowski told Gazeta Wyborcza that "the Pro Civili scandal was investigated by the very WSI led by General Rusak. When I oversaw the Ministry of Defense in 2000, the matter was referred to the Prosecutor's Office and found a finale in court”. Here, Komorowski’s statement is disingenuous in two respects. First of all, it was not the WSI who put an end to the scam, but rather it was the Treasury’s Fiscal Department. Secondly, he conveniently omitted existence of an ingenious protection umbrella that assured that the scam could go on with impunity.
Via the relationship with the established in 1996 Centrum Usługowo-Produkcyjne (operating under the auspices of the Polish Military Technical Academy, abbr. WAT), the WSI officers were able to extort loans, charge fees and taxes for non existing goods and services, create fraudulent paperwork for a slew of phony enterprises linked to the Pro Civili - all this of course, at the expense of the Polish taxpayers.
When Bronisław Komorowski was the Minister of Defense, the foundation used WAT to guarantee loans from the PKO Polish Bank, defrauding the treasury of some 100 million Złotys. The scammed money is said to have ended up in Cyprus.
It turned out that collateral for the loan was ... a jar of Siberian bee venom. Yes, it sounds like a grim joke, but unfortunately a joke it was not. Ironically, it was to be a miracle substance, that pharmaceutical industry would do anything to get their hands on. The PKO Polish Bank also fell victim to a slew of fraudulent lease agreements and phony factoring agreements.
As the Defense Minister, Bronisław Komorowski has blocked reforms of military education system proposed by Dr. Krzysztof Borowiak, who at the time was MON’s Director for Military Education and Science. Borowiak proposed a merger of Academies and Officer Schools (and the appointment of the National Defense University) with pre-existing universities and their faculties. But, these reforms posed a danger that WAT - through which the Pro Civili did the bulk of its shady business - would have been affected. Part and parcel of Komorowski’s pragmatism, Borowiak was expeditiously dismissed; so that Pro Civili’s shady business with WAT would continue unscathed.
When in 2011, Piotr Polaszczyk was taking a photo with Bronisław Komorowski, he was the mastermind behind the scam to defraud the SKOK Wołomin Credit Union. Paradoxically, in this instance, this former WSI officer was doing business on behalf of his colleagues’ years after he was identified in the “WSI Liquidation Report”, as someone who was untrustworthy, and not “clean”. It is impossible to believe that someone like Bronisław Komorowski had no knowledge of this. After all, as the president he is frequently briefed by intelligence services about such matters.
The same is true about Komorowski’s “oblivion” to these types of activities while he was the Minister of Defense in the government of Jerzy Buzek. It seems quite unlikely that he did not know who was the brain behind the Foundation Pro Civili’s operation to defraud tens of millions of Zlotys from the WAT, among others; if only because the WSI officers had to report about it to him.
The background of the president, or a candidate for president, should guarantee the sovereignty, infallibility, and security of his office’s performance, and resistance to undue pressure, or even blackmail. For these reasons, it is imperative that all matters concerning investments of large sums of money with Paluch’s sudo-bank should be exhaustively explained; particularly, if the former WSI communist military intelligence officers were part to any such transactions.
Poles have a right to know whether and if President Bronisław Komorowski amassed such large amounts of money, what their source was, who helped him recover them, and what the ultimate balance of this operation was.
These days it is customarily required of all politicians to provide detailed accounting of their earnings and expenses, how many miles they traveled, who paid for the watches they wear, or who paid for the dinners they ate. In the case of Bronisław Komorowski, who occupies the highest office in the nation, and who seeks reelection, we are dealing with large sums of money that were never accounted for. Similarly, the reasons for these transactions were never adequately explained; instead, all we hear are strange and incoherent stories.
Did WSI officers help Mr. Komorowski, then the Deputy Minister of Defense recover the money he invested in an obvious pyramid scam? If so, why did they do it? Did they do it for selfless reasons alone? Financial matters are often an instrument that is unscrupulously used to influence or blackmail people, and remain particularly troubling when we have former communist intelligence officers lurking in the shadows.
To date, Mr. Komorowski uttered many strange explanations about his relationship with the Foundation Pro Civili that parasitized the Ministry of Defense, never however, adequately explaining his involvement with this criminal enterprise. How was it possible that it was specifically on his watch, that a criminal syndicate was allowed to defraud the assets of the Ministry of Defense’s Military Technical Academy, and various Polish financial institutions?
After all, in this particular instance, there were hundreds of millions of Zlotys at stake. These money could and very likely did, produce paid-for loyalties, won favors, or even obliged some to turn a blind eye to criminal activities. There is one common denominator that appears throughout this story: a Soviet GRU-trained, WSI intelligence agent using dirty money to artfully check-mate or blackmail people into silence or submission.
Why am I asking these questions? Because when it comes to the candidate for president, the citizens should know everything about him, and this includes all that is secret or vague, and all that assures or raises doubts and fears about who he truly is. For secrets from the past always affect decisions of the present. More often than not, they also show one’s resilience to fear or temptation. If these criteria are used to screen members of the Parliament, shouldn’t we expect that they should also apply to a candidate for the most important office in the country?
Written by Stanisław Janiecki, wSieci.pl
Translation: Laszló Hoffmann & CurrentEventsPoland.com