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Prime Minister’s Office could be prosecuted after botched election

Paweł Supernak/PAP

Poland’s Supreme Audit Office (NIK) will notify prosecutors of possible crimes committed by the Prime Minister’s Office, State Assets Ministry and the Interior Ministry while organising the failed presidential election last May, the NIK head has said.

Marian Banaś told the RMF FM private radio broadcaster that the notifications will likely be sent to prosecutors after an analysis of information sent to NIK by the top state bodies.

“I must say that… we have to analyse in detail the stances we have received from the Ministry of State Assets and the Prime Minister’s Office in order to make relevant decisions,” Banaś said.

The government made an unsuccessful attempt to organise a presidential election in a postal format last May, defying the opposition’s warnings that the procedure had no legal foundations. Ultimately, the plan collapsed after one of parties in the governing coalition declined to support it.

Despite its cancellation, the postal vote plan still cost taxpayers tens of millions of zlotys.

NIK has already notified prosecutors of possible crimes committed by the Polish Post and Polish Security Printing Works, the two institutions that were involved in printing and distributing the ballot papers.

Banaś went on to say that “all indications show that these notifications will be filed,” adding that a decision will be made “in the coming days.”

The NIK head declined to give any names that could appear in the prosecution motions, but said that “certainly three bodies will be mentioned in the filing, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of State Assets and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration.”

The crimes committed, according to Banaś, include “the supervision and organisation of certain activities” considered illegal.

Last week NIK said the postal vote should not have been organised based on an administrative decision as it lacked legal grounds.

The government rejected the accusations, saying that “all the decisions… were legal” and that the prime minister and his chief of staff were “protecting the constitution.”

The government could face further trouble from NIK owing to other audits now being carried out. They include they the inspection of large investment projects promoted by the government, such as a major air and rail hub, which is still in the planning stage despite it being on the books for years, and a failed investment in a power plant in Ostrołęka.

Another audit could cover the Justice Ministry’s Justice Fund, which is supposed to help victims of crimes, but critics say it could have been used for political purposes.

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