Former Polish PM’s failure to apply for EU cash may be crime, says govt

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 9:30 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s former prime minister may have committed a crime by failing to submit an application for EU funds, according to a motion set to come before parliament, escalating a conflict over alleged wrongdoing by the former administration.

Donald Tusk’s pro-European government has vowed that those it accuses of abuses of power or negligence in top jobs under the previous administration will be held to account, but opening the way for criminal charges against Mateusz Morawiecki, prime minister from 2017 to 2023, would be a dramatic gear change.

According to an item on the agenda for parliament which was visible on Tuesday, lawmakers were due to hear information on a possible crime “consisting in official omission, which led to Poland’s irretrievable loss of the advance payment from the National Reconstruction Plan in the amount of EUR 4.7 billion”.

Poland saw billions in recovery funds frozen due to a dispute with the European Union over judicial independence, and amid the dispute Warsaw did not apply for an advance payment which would not have depended on rule of law criteria.

According to the agenda point, the information was to be presented by Justice Minister Adam Bodnar. It said the possible crime would have been committed by the former prime minister and the European affairs minister.

At the time of the events in question, Konrad Szymanski was European affairs minister.

As of Wednesday, the item which was originally scheduled for Thursday, had been removed from the agenda.

However, Deputy Justice Minister Arkadiusz Myrcha said it would return at a later date.

“The legal assessment of omissions by the former prime minister refers to the failure to submit an application for an advance payment under the national recovery plan… it is necessary to make a legal assessment of whether that is a white-collar crime.”

The move comes after prosecutors launched investigations into a series of alleged crimes that critics of the former Law and Justice (PiS) government say were swept under the rug during its time in office.

Neither Morawiecki nor Szymanski could be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Alan Charlish; Editing by Nick Macfie)