Finance

Central bank pay scandal hits Polands ruling party

WARSAW — Adam Glapiński is a long-time friend and ally of Polands de facto leader Jarosław Kaczyński, which is why he was given the job of running the countrys central bank.

But an increasing swirl of scandal around the bank means Glapiński is becoming a problem for Kaczyńskis Law and Justice (PiS) party ahead of the parliamentary election later this year.

The latest involves two of Glapińskis senior aides.

Polish media calculated their salaries, and claimed that the banks director of communications and promotion, Martyna Wojciechowska, makes around 65,000 zloty per month (over €15,000), 13 times the national average and more than the countrys president.

The media also claimed that another National Bank of Poland (NBP) employee, Kamila Sukiennik, who manages Glapińskis office, is also on the board of the Central Securities Depository — the financial instruments regulator — despite having no formal qualifications for the job.

“Public opinion is waiting for concrete figures being earned by certain people in the NBP” — Jan Maria Jackowski, PiS senator

Thats created a massive image problem for PiS, which swept to power in 2015 promising to clean up the country after eight years of rule by the centrist Civic Platform party.

Law and Justice is still well ahead of Civic Platform in opinion polls, but the party is worried that any hint of corruption could be damaging in an electoral year.

Scrambling to respond

The reports prompted a divided response from the ruling party.

Jan Maria Jackowski, a PiS senator seen as loyal to Kaczyński, publicly asked the bank to reveal its employees salaries, saying the reportedly exorbitant pay packets contrasted with the “good change” that PiS promised when taking power in 2015.

Polish President Andrzej Duda pointed the finger at former NBP Governor Marek Belka | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

“Public opinion is waiting for concrete figures being earned by certain people in the NBP,” Jackowski told the pro-government wpolityce portal.

President Andrzej Duda took a different tack, blaming previous NBP Governor Marek Belka for the banks salary structure.

The bank responded on Wednesday.

“No director at the NBP is making 65,000 złoty per month,” the central banks deputy director of personnel Ewa Raczko told reporters. But she refused to say how much the aides are earning, only saying that the average salary of all directors is over 36,000 złoty (over €8,000) a month.

“That reminds me of the joke in which a statistician drowned in a lake that was only 10 centimeters deep, on average,” Jackowski said in response.

Even government loyalists like Beata Mazurek, the deputy speaker of parliament, were nonplussed. Mazurek said she is “not satisfied” with the central banks news conference.

“Pillaging public institutions by people tied to PiS is your responsibility” — Sławomir Neumann, the head of Civic Platforms parliamentary caucus

Glapiński himself held a news conference later in the day, insisting his bank has done nothing wrong and that he has no intention of quitting. “There is no problem,” he said.

He had caustic words for Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin, who has also expressed concern about the reported salaries. “I would advise Mr. Gowin to take a couple of deep breaths before speaking about the NBP … If that doesnt help then a cold shower.”

He also accused the media of “scandalous, brutal, primitive, sexist” attacks on his two aides because they are women, and said he is opposed to revealing their salaries.

The central bank is one of the countrys most respected institutions, playing a key role in deflecting the impact of the 2008 global economic crisis and safeguarding the value of the Polish currency.

The złoty has not been affected by the latest fuss around the bank.

“Markets have fully digested the influence of Mr. Kaczyński himself and do not really react to his unconventional views any longer. So it is unlikely that discovery of some specific corruption at NBP will have much impact. Rather, it will be viewed as a person-specific matter,” said Tatha Ghose, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank.

Its not Glapińskis first brush with scandal.

His protégé Marek Chrzanowski, the head of the Financial Supervision Authority, Polands financial market watchdog, was arrested in November on corruption charges. Polish billionaire and banker Leszek Czarnecki accused him of offering to go lightly on his troubled banks in return for hiring an ally for an enormous salary.

Glapiński also met with Czarnecki and Chrzanowski, although not when the alleged offer was made.

Both scandals have been seized on by the opposition.

“Pillaging public institutions by people tied to PiS is your responsibility,” Sławomir Neumann, the head of Civic Platforms parliamentary caucus, said of Kaczyński.

Read this next: How a Russian firm helped catch alleged data thief

Original Article