Tusk: Amber Gold clients ‘victims’ of the system

Donald Tusk during the hearing. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council and former Prime Minister said that Amber Gold pyramid scheme clients were “victims” of the system while answering questions from a parliamentary commission probing the scandal.

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In a long-awaited hearing on Monday, Mr Tusk said that he had no access to the documents about the Internal Security Agency (ABW) operations. “This is why I was not aware of any operations concerning Amber Gold and OLT Express,” he added.

The former PM said that the ABW memo about Amber Gold and OLT Express was shown to him in June 2012 by then-Interior Minister Jacek Cichocki, but before that, he was briefed by the head of his chancellery Tomasz Arabski and then-deputy PM and Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski.

“Before August 2012, the moment when the issue become public… the only document I received was the memo from ABW, which I read in June 2012,” he said. This was three months before the company declared bankruptcy, which was announced on September 20, 2012.

Mr Tusk said also that he is sympathetic towards people, who invested in Amber Gold, but he reminded that Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) warned about the very high risk of this investment. The company had been on the investment blacklist on the KNF’s website for several months ahead of the collapse

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Political scapegoat?

The head of the European Council said that implying that authorities did not do anything, is “false”.

The former PM warned that the ruling Law and Justice party is setting a dangerous precedent by attempting to find a political scapegoat for the scandal. Mr Tusk added the same could be done to incumbent PM Mateusz Morawiecki over current scandals in the financial industry, namely the GetBack stock which plummeted after the company failed to publish financial results.

In his opinion, it is not the role of the Prime Minister to direct secret services and prosecutors on the issues they should investigate.

“If all elements of the procedure worked, it would be possible to avoid a large part of the losses caused by investing in Amber Gold scheme,” said Mr Tusk. He added that he “was not questioning any particular decision or processes of ABW.”

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Father and son

The commission played the recorded testimony of one of the ABW officers, who told the committee in February, that ABW cannot look into the case of Mr Tusk’s son.

“I was told that the investigation concerning Michał Tusk has been cancelled and now is in the hands of prosecutors. I was directly told that the prosecutors do not want any operational activities. I was told that if we continue doing it, we will be charged with obstruction of justice,” the officer told the committee.

On Monday Mr Tusk told the committee: “I had nothing to do with it, I do not know this case, it seems unlikely to me.” He admitted that he learn about the cooperation of his son with OLT Express airlines from a press interview.

The Amber Gold shadow bank, which proved to be a pyramid scheme, advertised it would invest clients’ money in gold and other precious metals.

The scheme led more than 19,000 investors to lose over PLN 850 million (EUR 200 million) in total.

In 2011, Amber Gold acquired majority stakes in Jet Air, OLT Germany and Yes Airways to establish the OLT Express brand, under which the Gdańsk-based OLT Express Regional airline operated domestic flights and the Warsaw-based OLT Express Poland operated international charter flights.