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Second head rolls in agricultural funding scandal

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 20.07.2012 14:21
The head of a state-backed grain company has been dismissed as an investigation continues into allegations of cronyism, just two days after Poland's Agriculture Minister resigned.

Andrzej Smietanko: PAP/Janusz Mazur

Andrzej Smietanko had served as managing director of Elewarr, a company that stands accused of misuse of public funds and nepotism.

The ousted director has professed his innocence, saying he ran the company in a “responsible and clear-sighted way.”

The allegations stem from a video that was leaked to the Puls Biznesu daily last week.

The film has tainted several former and present members of junior coalition partner, the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL), including Smietanko, as well as outgoing Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki, who resigned on Wednesday as the allegations snowballed.

In the film, Wladyslaw Lukasik, a former head of the governmental Agriculture Market Agency (ARR), makes claims of malpractice in conversation with Wladyslaw Serafin, chairman of the National Union of Farmers and Farmers' Associations (KZRKiOR).

The ARR, which works in tandem with the Agriculture Ministry, distributes state and EU funds, among other tasks. Elewarr, which is owned by ARR, is frequently cited in the tape.

The European Commission has already called for clarification over allegations concerning the mishandling of EU funds.

Meanwhilw, an inspection of Elewarr's offices began on Thursday, conducted by Poland's Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), and the investigation is expected to last until 19 September. (di/nh)

tags: agriculture
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