Ex-deputy finance minister questioned in Polish tax probe

A panel of Polish MPs was on Wednesday questioning a former deputy finance minister as a witness in an ongoing probe into suspected cases of VAT and excise tax fraud under the country’s previous government.

The witness, Elżbieta Chojna-Duch, was once deputy finance minister in the government of Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who is now a top European Union official.

The inquiry, led by Marcin Horała, an MP for Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, got under way after the lower house of Poland’s parliament in early July voted to launch a parliamentary investigation into suspected irregularities.

Horała said at the time that a probe was needed to check former finance ministry officials and others who oversaw the VAT collection system under the Civic Platform-led government, which governed Poland from 2007 to 2015.

Chojna-Duch worked under Tusk as deputy finance minister from 2007 to 2010.

Later on Wednesday the special parliamentary commission was expected to question Stanisław Gomułka, another former deputy finance minister who served in Poland’s previous government of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL).

Meanwhile, former deputy finance minister Jacek Dominik was scheduled to be questioned by the MPs in Warsaw on Thursday.

The special parliamentary commission’s first witness, Witold Modzelewski, one of the architects of Poland’s value-added tax system and deputy finance minister from 1992 to 1996, told the investigators in September that the so-called VAT gap ballooned in Poland between 2007 and 2015, leading to billions of zlotys in losses for public coffers.

Poland lost hundreds of billions in uncollected taxes under its previous Civic Platform-led government, according to a report released by a tax advisory firm run by Modzelewski.

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