Towergate: allegation that land has other owners

A lawyer who has been charged with corruption for bribing real estate department officials in Warsaw city government to process fraudulent restitution claims, alleges that land on which “two towers” were to be built by a company run by close associates of the ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, was subject to unresolved restitution claims.

Towergate: a threat to ruling party leader’s image

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Mr Robert Nowaczyk is the attorney who represented claimants in restitution cases. He has been charged with bribing the Warsaw City real estate department officials to process fraudulent restitution claims. His sister was a senior civil servant in the Justice ministry who acquired restitution claims worth 38 million PLN. The “ two towers” project in the centre of Warsaw was a project initiated by a company run by close associates of Mr Kaczyński and owned by a foundation which was set up by Mr Kaczyński and his associates.

The ‘two towers” became hot news this week when the liberal pro-opposition daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” published tapes of conversations between the ruling party leader and an Austrian developer. The Austrian is now in dispute with Mr Kaczyński with regard to payment for his services.

Mr Nowaczyk gave testimony on Thursday to the special commission set up to review the restitution process in Warsaw. That commission was set up by Parliament and has been reviewing cases of restitution that have taken place in Warsaw over the years. The commission came into being as a result of allegations that many of the claims were fraudulent, as those who were making them had long since died.

The attorney points the finger at the ruling party

Mr Nowaczyk, the attorney facing bribery charges, said that a former Warsaw city official who has been charged with receiving bribes got his job on recommendation of Law and Justice (PiS) politicians when that party briefly ran the city administration in the early noughties. According to Mr Nowaczyk the main task of the recommended official was to prevent restitution claims to the plot of land owned by the company which owns the land on which the “two towers” were to be built. He alleges that the official asked him to attempt to purchase any such claims so that no one would make claims on the land.

According to Mr Nowaczyk, there are 12 families who may have claims on the land in question. However, “Gazeta Wyborcza” reports that the claims were actively pursued by one individual who has been purchasing restitution claims in order to pursue them, an individual who is currently facing similar charges to Mr Nowaczyk.

The attorney also accused the city official of working with the Anti-Corruption Agency (CBA) on collecting compromising materials against other developers, lawyers and the former Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. As evidence to support his allegations, he cited photographs of the official partying with Law and Justice functionaries. He said that the official told him that at one of the parties in his apartment, a well-known PiS deputy and chief of the CBA in the noughties, Mariusz Kaminski, was so inebriated that he was “walking on all fours and kissing a dog”.

Where’s the evidence?

Mr Nowaczyk has not produced any evidence to support his allegations. He did not produce documents of acquired restitution titles. He has not tapes of other records of his conversations with the city official. Only the fact that the city official was once a friend of Mr Kamiński and his associates can be proved.

Mr Nowaczyk and the city official, along with other individuals, are facing very serious charges of indulging in fraud and corruption with regard to the restitution process. The prosecutors have evidence that documentation was falsified and bribes actually paid. Unlike the “two towers” where there was in the end no construction, no contract and no credit drawn, the restitution of property based on bribery and fraud actually happened.

Without any evidence for them, Mr Nowaczyk’s claims , given his situation, have limited credibility and may be a part of a smear campaign against the ruling party. He was warned by the chairman of the Commission on Thursday that the testimony was under oath and that the possible sentence for false testimony is eight years in jail.

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