Poland’s Tusk calls prosecutor over potential Orlen scandal

By Thomson Reuters Apr 29, 2024 | 6:43 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s prime minister said on Monday he had called the country’s chief prosecutor and secret services coordinator to discuss potential links between former CEO of oil refiner Orlen, Daniel Obajtek, and Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Obajtek responded on social media platform X that Prime Minister Donald Tusk was “looking for scandals where there are none”.

State-controlled Orlen said last week it had cancelled contracts signed by its Swiss trading unit OTS to buy Venezuelan oil and refined products after losing around 1.6 billion zloty ($397 million) on prepayments for deliveries it never received.

“Today I asked … for a visit regarding a key issue for state security: the billion-dollar loss and possible links with Hezbollah of the former head of Orlen. Poles must know the truth,” Tusk wrote on X, referring to his requests to the chief prosecutor and the secret services coordinator.

Orlen set up the Swiss-based trading business despite a warning by its internal security unit that it would pose risks of fraud and could expose the refiner to a breach of oil sanctions, news website Onet reported on Monday.

Onet also said the former CEO of OTS, referred to as Samer A. due to Polish privacy laws, was suspected by Orlen’s internal security unit of contacts with Hezbollah. Orlen did not immediately reply to requests for comment on the Onet report.

Onet quoted a statement by Obajtek that said the decision to establish OTS was made by Orlen’s whole 11-person management board and was in line with its corporate governance procedures.

Samer A. has been charged in a separate probe with VAT frauds between 2008-2013, a regional prosecutor in Bydgoszcz said on Monday. He has been detained by police, questioned by a prosecutor in February, and released on bail, the prosecutor added.

Obajtek said in his post on X that Tusk’s party was concerned that Obajtek would run in upcoming elections to the European Parliament with the support of the opposition Law & Justice party.

($1 = 4.0340 zlotys)