Top audit body and justice ministry argue over EUR 5.85 mln transfer

Justice Ministry has transferred PLN 25 mln to the Central Anti-corruption Bureau. Photo: pixabay.com/adnovak

The Supreme Audit Office (NIK) argued that the Polish Justice Ministry has transferred money from the Justice Fund to the Central Anti-corruption Bureau (CBA) in an illegal way. The Ministry has turned down these allegations.

The Justice Fund is a state fund targeted at, inter alia, counteracting crime and providing help to victims of crime. NIK found, having completed a budgetary control, that the Ministry has allegedly violated public finances discipline by transferring PLN 25 mln (EUR 5.8 mln) from the Justice Fund to the CBA.

“In our opinion, a violation of law occured. This month we will be filing a complaint on violating public finances discipline by the Fund’s supervisor, namely the Justice ex-Deputy Minister,” announced NIK’s head Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, while another member of NIK Marek Bieńkowski argued that what the Justice Ministry has done is "against the law and dangerous to the state."

Meanwhile, the Ministry officially “refutes NIK’s statement that, allegedly, it has transferred money of the Justice Fund to CBA illegally”. The Ministry has argued that the CBA Act does not limit the financing of CBA to budgetary money.

The said Act “obliged the Justice Fund to finance statutory tasks of public finances entities entrusted with detecting and counteracting crime, that is, amongst others, CBA,” argues the Ministry in its statement, adding that the transferred quota features the category “other” in the Fund’s budget-plan - one that had been approved by the Finance Ministry and the Lower House.

According to the Ministry, adoption of NIK’s statement would result in the cessation of state help provided to victims of crime.” Moreover, the Ministry stated that in such a case it would have to terminate the aid programs realized by the Voluntary Fire Departments scattered all over the country and also strip them off their life-saving equipment.

The Justice Fund is fueled by compensatory damages. The accrued fund is allotted to legal, psychological and social help provided to crime victims. From August 2017, these funds may be earmarked for crime countering and the financial aid may also be provided to public institutions.

According to the Ministry, “PLN 160 mln [approx. EUR 37 mln] have been transferred to crime victims.” The Ministry also stated that in the previous years the aid volume was ten times lower.

The Civic Platform (PO) - main opposition party - plans to refer the matter to the prosecutor’s office. One of its MPs noticed, however, that the situation is “bizarre”, as the “Justice Minister is the general prosecutor” so the case against the person who has validated the transfer will also be supervised by “the person who transferred the money against the law.”

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