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Protest to EU after Polish authorities raid German company operations in Wroclaw

European authorities are being asked to investigate an attack on a German company which operates in Poland.

By: EBR - Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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Termination of the Kmetko case in Germany confirms a similar decision of Prosecutor’s office in Wroclaw which was notified to the company in a letter dated 31 May 2012, which also closed the investigation.
Termination of the Kmetko case in Germany confirms a similar decision of Prosecutor’s office in Wroclaw which was notified to the company in a letter dated 31 May 2012, which also closed the investigation.

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by Martin Banks

Lawyers representing the company have written to the European Commission saying that a raid by armed security forces on the K.u.K employment agency in the south west Polish city of Wroclaw was aimed at stopping fair competition by forcing the closure of the Berlin-based company.

Polish authorities have made accusations against the firm saying it was involved in money-laundering.

But a lengthy investigation by the Berlin State Prosecutor has stated the charges are unfounded.

Following a letter dated 28 October from the Berlin State Prosecutor exonerating K.u.K. from any charges, it appears that the reaction of Wroclaw police has been to attack the firm.

“Over 7,000 jobs in Poland are now in peril,” said a spokesman for K.u.K.

On Tuesday, one Polish MEP, who said he did not wish to be named, also condemned the action, telling this website, “This like something out of the Communist era or behaviour you would expect in Putin’s Russia but not Tusk’s Poland.”

Claiming that they were investigating alleged money-laundering operations by the Berlin registered company K.u.K. International, Polish authorities conducted a series of raids against the company on 5 November.

Armed special units smashed their way into property owned by K.u.K., seized company assets,including two German registered cars.

They also searched K.u.K offices in Warsaw, Szczecin, Olsztyn and Dębic. The police raid extended to searching private apartments and seizing private property. German citizens were amongst the persons arrested by the police.

The armed police arrested Polish citizens employed by the company and blocked the non-resident bank account of K.u.K. International - thereby threatening the payment of wages due to the company’s 7 000 employees.

Responding, management of K.u.K. International branded them as "without any justification in law."

“The state sponsored actions are wholly disproportionate and unjustified. They threaten legitimate business operations and the rights of innocent individuals. No European business can operate on a cross-border basis if the police act without respect for basic European values and laws,” said a K.u.K. International spokesman.

The raids come within seven days of the Berlin State Prosecutor concluding a thorough and comprehensive two and a half year investigation into the affairs of the company.

This was conducted at the request of the Polish government within the framework of the agreement on legal assistance between the two countries.

Polish businessman Zdzislaw Kmetko and his wife Halina as well as their German company K.u.K. -E.F.I. International Logistic + Händel GmbH did not commit money laundering or any concealment of assets, the Berlin State Prosecutor concluded following the two year long investigation.

In a letter addressed to Halina Kmetko as the owner of the K.u.K. and dated 28 October, 2013 the office of Berlin prosecutor notified the company that the investigation had been terminated due to lack of evidence of any violation.

Termination of the Kmetko case in Germany confirms a similar decision of Prosecutor’s office in Wroclaw which was notified to the company in a letter dated 31 May 2012, which also closed the investigation.

"The raids are without justification and directly contradict the written confirmation of the Public Prosecutor of Wroclaw from 31 May 2012 stating that no money laundering operations were undertaken by K.u.K. International," a company spokesman said.

“This policy of state harassment of the family business of Wroclaw entrepreneur Zdzislaw Kmetko follows a consistent trend going back to the communist era of the early 1990s, and suggests a deliberate strategy of targeted, selective and vindictive actions designed to destroy the legitimate family business of K.u.K. International and to break the spirit of its owners and its employees,” the K.u.K International spokesman went on to say.

“These illegal actions will be contested vigorously in the courts, and we shall apply for remedies to protect the legitimate business interests of K.u.K. International and to defend the rights of the individuals who have been subject to this wholly unwarranted, groundless and unjustified harassment,” the spokesman added.

"This attempt to shut down and destroy a legitimate Polish business providing jobs for 7000 people in Poland is a bad signal to send out at a time when the Polish economy is slowing down.

"We believe it is against the EU rules on the single market and against EU fundamental rights and we will be asking the relevant commissioners in Brussels to examine this police attack on a private company that pays its taxes in Germany, Switzerland, Poland where it operates and fully complies with the law in all three countries.

"Clearly it suits the company’s competitors to see the police raid and the attempt to shut down his business, but Poland must respect rule of law as an EU member state,” the company spokesman concluded.

A source at the European commission in Brussels said they would look into the matter as soon as they received the complaint.

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