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EU suspends Polish road funding after cartel allegations

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 30.01.2013 09:39
Poland's Minister of Regional Development has claimed that “Poland is the aggrieved party” after the EU confirmed the suspension of funds for road-building amid allegations of price-fixing.

Minister Elzbieta Bienkowska: photo - mrr.gov.pl

“The Polish system of selecting projects and contractors is running efficiently,” said Minister Elzbieta Bienkowska in an interview with Polish Radio.

“Poland is the aggrieved party in this matter, as it was Polish law enforcement agencies that detected that perhaps there was some price-fixing between contractors,” she said.

The suspension of 3.5 billion zloty (837.7 million euro) relates to an alleged cartel concerning three road-building projects that were co-funded by the European Commission's Operational Programme 'Infrastructure and Environment'.

Polish prosecutors have already charged eleven people with attempting to create a cartel. The defendants include ten former and current executives of large construction companies, together with one director of the General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA).

“If these allegations are confirmed they will constitute a violation of the provisions of the directives on public procurement in the EU and will testify to potentially serious weaknesses in the management and control system,” a statement from the European Commission concluded, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

However, Minister Bienkowska has suggested that Poland should not be penalised, reflecting that “you would have to assign a policeman to every contractor,” to assure that there was no risk of any foul play.

The projects concerned are two sections of the S8 express road, a route that links central and north-eastern Poland. The sections are between Jezewo and Bialystok, as well as Piotrkow Trybunalski and Rawa Mazowiecka. The third investment in question is the construction of the A4 motorway between Radymno and Korczowa.

Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak is due to discuss the matter in Brussels this Friday with the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn. (nh)

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