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English Section

Prison terms for Polish shadow bank founders

16.10.2019 12:30
The two former owners of a Polish shadow bank were on Wednesday handed lengthy prison terms over a pyramid scheme that rocked the country under its previous government.
Judge Lidia Jedynak announces the sentences at a district court in the northern Polish city of Gdańsk on Wednesday.
Judge Lidia Jedynak announces the sentences at a district court in the northern Polish city of Gdańsk on Wednesday.Photo: PAP/Adam Warżawa

The two accused businesspeople, a married couple identified only as Marcin P. and Katarzyna P., were earlier this year both found guilty of defrauding investors in their roles as the founders and co-owners of the Amber Gold shadow banking institution.

A court in the northern city of Gdańsk on Wednesday handed Marcin P. a 15-year prison term while sentencing Katarzyna P. to 12-and-a-half years in prison.

Marcin P. was additionally sentenced to a fine of PLN 159,000 (EUR 37,000, USD 41,000), while Katarzyna P. was meted out a fine of PLN 135,000, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

The announcement of the sentences came after a more than three-year-long trial and a months-long process of reading out a lengthy verdict.

The verdict, which a judge began reading out in the Gdańsk district court in May, is subject to appeal.

Prosecutors had been pushing for 25 years in prison for each of the accused, while the defence lawyer requested an acquittal.

The Amber Gold pyramid scheme saw thousands of Poles cheated out of their savings from 2009 to 2012, at a time when Poland’s previous centrist government was in power.

Amber Gold had promised customers high returns on investments in gold, but the firm folded in August 2012.

According to investigators, some 19,000 customers were swindled out of a combined PLN 851 million (EUR 200 million) at the time.

Parliamentary inquiry finds 'weakness of the state'

In a separate probe into the Amber Gold pyramid scheme scandal, a special Polish parliamentary commission in May submitted a final report on its two-and-a-half-year inquiry into the investment scam.

The presentation of the report followed hearings of Amber Gold employees, law enforcers, tax and financial supervision officials as well as former government officials including ex-Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who now holds a top EU role as president of the European Council.

The report, drawn up by MPs led by conservative lawmaker Małgorzata Wassermann, alleges that “the emergence and expansion of the Amber Gold group resulted from the weakness of the state, failure of law enforcement and justice authorities, legal loopholes, passivity and leniency of officials, as well as the lack of application of the law by public authorities."

Małgorzata Wassermann, a conservative Polish lawmaker who led a two-and-a-half-year-long parliamentary probe into the Amber Gold scandal. Małgorzata Wassermann, a conservative Polish lawmaker who led a two-and-a-half-year parliamentary probe into the Amber Gold scandal.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info