Sławomir Nowak, who served as transport minister from 2011 to 2013 in Poland’s former coalition government led by his Civic Platform (PO) party, was detained at the start of last week by Poland’s Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) in a joint probe with Ukrainian investigators amid suspicion of multiple white-collar crimes.
A day later he was charged with “managing an organised criminal group that benefited from corruption,” according to a spokeswoman for the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw.
Now prosecutors are preparing to file more charges against Nowak, who was once a right-hand man to Polish centrist Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the wpolityce.pl website reported.
It cited two journalists with Poland’s Sieci news magazine as claiming that Nowak, who headed Ukraine’s State Road Agency (Ukravtodor) from 2016 to 2019, “not only accepted bribes for road contracts, but also demanded money from businessmen seeking favour with Ukrainian authorities.”
Once "the golden boy" of Poland's previous ruling elite, Nowak has “turned out to be an international con man,” the journalists, Marek Pyza and Marcin Wikło, said, according to the wpolityce.pl website.
Mirosława Chyr, spokeswoman for the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw, told reporters last Tuesday that Nowak is suspected of receiving more than PLN 1.3 million (EUR 293,000, USD 335,000) in personal gain in return for illegitimately awarding contracts to private businesses for the construction and repair of roads in Ukraine.
He is also suspected of “laundering money from corruption crimes,” Chyr said.
She added that the charges “concern the period from October 2016 to September 2019 when the former Polish government minister headed the Ukrainian State Road Agency Ukravtodor.”
Two other suspects have also been charged in the case, Chyr told reporters at the time.
Both are accused of being part of an organised criminal group as well as of money laundering and taking bribes, she said.
Under Polish privacy laws, the two men have been identified only as “Dariusz Z.,” a former commander of Poland’s elite GROM special forces unit, and “Jacek P.,” a businessman based in the Baltic city of Gdańsk.
All three suspects have denied the charges against them, Chyr said last Tuesday.
Nowak, who has been remanded in custody for three months following a court order, could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, wpolityce.pl reported.