Arrests and allegations against employees working in Urząd Wojewódzki. Bribes in residence permit cases.

A year ago you had a chance to read our previous article regarding possible corruption in Urząd Wojwódzki in Wrocław (you can find it here). This was one of many conclusions of a country-wide audit performed in Polish Voivodeship Offices (Urząd Wojewódzki). It now seems that this story is coming to a right conclusion…

This morning – on 02.12.2020 – Polish CBA officers (Centralne Biuro Antykorupcyjne – Central Anticorruption Bureau) arrested seven persons on suspicion of bribery. Two of these persons were clerks working in Dolnośląski Urząd Wojewódzki in Wrocław and one was a main specialist working in Łódzki Urząd Wojewódzki in Łódź. They are suspected of receiving bribes for resolving residence permit case in an organised way.

According to CBA, the clerks have received „a number of financial benefits – both valuables and money – in return for positive resolvement of residence and work permits”.

Currently, the investigators are conducting searches. The case will be brought to the Prokuratura Okręgowa (Dictrict Prosecutor’s Office) and the arrested persons will hear possible charges.

The investigation is likely to be a result of a Polish Supreme Audit Office (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli or NIK) report’s conclusions.

According to this report, Urząd Wojewódzki in Wrocław is processing residence permit cases the longest – with an average of 328 days in 2018 (see this article). One of the conclusions were that this situation may not only be a case of bad management, but also a result of possible corruption:

“in the Dolnośląski Urząd Wojewódzki in Wrocław, the procedural and organizational solutions adopted for the reception and consideration of applications filed by foreigners were contrary to the principle of equal treatment of parties and constituted a potential field for the development of corruption mechanisms. At this office, it was allowed for so called “strategic clients”, i.e. foreigners working for foreign investors, located in special economic zones, to submit applications outside the queue system. In this “mode”, an average of about 300 foreigners were admitted per month, who, contrary to the recognized principle of processing applications in accordance with the chronology of their impact, had the opportunity to obtain an earlier resolution of the case, compared to other clients who could not use this privileged path. Also at the stage of examining applications, solutions were used to indicate the privileged treatment of selected groups of foreigners.”

During an audit, there was a random case analysis conducted with the following results:

“An analysis of 54 residence applications carried out during the inspection, the outcome of which was a positive decision, showed that in 18 cases (including 16 from 2017-2018), these proceedings were completed within a much shorter period than their average time spent in the office.”

“It should be emphasized that the activities of public administration bodies should be based on the principle of transparency and equal treatment of parties to proceedings. The examples mentioned above contradict these fundamental principles, at the same time violating citizens’ trust in public authorities.”

According to media, the investigation is said to be „active and ongoing”.

Let us all hope, that this will be a beginning of some good changes soon.

Do you need legal assistance during your stay in Poland? Feel free to contact us and take advantage of our services.

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