Legal challenge mounted in bid to recover corporate assets

A formal legal challenge is being mounted against a state prosecutor in Poland in the case of a businessman who has had his business assets seized.

A spokesman for the company told the EBR website, “21st Century Poland has shaken off its Soviet past, but in some parts of the administration there remain some pockets of recidivism and behaviour more appropriate to homo sovieticus.

The Berlin registered company K.u.K. - E.F.I International GmbH is taking legal steps to recover German-owned properties that have been confiscated in Poland by the Wroclaw Prosecutor’s Office without any court decision or legal warrant. 


The properties include the assets of four non-resident commercial bank accounts registered in the name of the German company in Poland that were blocked in March 2013 and the deposits confiscated, allegedly without any legal grounds.


The list of confiscated assets also include three cars, registered in Berlin in Germany in the name of K.u.K. - E.F.I International GmbH, which were seized on 6 November in Poland by the Wroclaw Prosecutor’s Office. 


A German employee driving one of the company owned cars was detained for 36 hours although he was not charged, and the vehicle he was driving was confiscated without any explanation.


International lawyers representing K.u.K. - E.F.I International GmbH are claiming a breach of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on the protection of bilateral investment between Germany and Poland and a breach of Article 231 of the Polish Criminal Code by the Wroclaw Prosecutor’s Office.


On referral from the Polish Prosecutor General’s Office, between 2011 and 2013 K.u.K. - E.F.I International GmbH was the subject of a full and comprehensive investigation by the Berlin State Prosecutor.


The Berlin-based company says it fully co-operated with and assisted the German authorities with their inquiries, providing all of the documents and the information requested. 


Having examined these thoroughly after a three-year investigation, the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office ruled on 28 October 2013 that there was "no evidence" to substantiate the claims from the Polish authorities against K.u.K. - E.F.I International GmbH and the investigation was closed.


The seizures by the Wroclaw Prosecutor’s Office of the property belonging to K.u.K. - E.F.I International GmbH were made without reference to the German authorities and without any Polish or German court decisions or legal warrants.


The legality of these actions is now being challenged by the company’s international legal team in Berlin.


A spokesman for the company told the EBR website, “21st Century Poland has shaken off its Soviet past, but in some parts of the administration there remain some pockets of recidivism and behaviour more appropriate to homo sovieticus. 


“Poland is a key member of the European Union, and a supporter of European values and European law. Our company is an international European business that respects the highest standards of EU governance and we cannot tolerate this kind of treatment.


"We believe our assets have been taken away without due legal process or authority. 


"We will defend our corporate rights and seek to recover them through the correct legal channels, in accordance with European law.”


Concern was also recently voiced about employees of the company who were detained and held without charge in the raids just before Christmas.


It has been alleged that Piotr Kalecinski, the state prosecutor in Wroclaw may be in breach of the EU´s Charter of Fundamental Rights. 


The issue has been raised with the European Parliament and the charity, Amnesty International.

By Martin Banks


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