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Poland – German recruiter raided by security forces

13 November 2013

European authorities have been asked to investigate an attack on a German recruitment company that operates in Poland, reports sacbee.com. Lawyers representing the company have written to the European Commission claiming that a raid by armed security forces on the K.u.K International employment agency in the south west Polish city of Wroclaw was aimed at stopping fair competition by forcing the closure of the Berlin-based company.

Claiming that they were investigating alleged money-laundering operations by K.u.K. International, Polish authorities conducted a series of raids against the company on 5th November. 

It is reported that armed special units smashed their way into property owned by K.u.K., and seized company assets; including two German registered cars. They searched K.u.K offices in the cities of Warsaw, Szczecin, Olsztyn, and Dębic. The police raid extended its search to private apartments, and seized private property. German citizens were amongst those arrested by the police.

The armed police also arrested Polish citizens employed by the company and blocked the non-resident bank account of K.u.K. International - thereby threatening the payment of wages due to the company's 7,000 employees. 

All those arrested were released without charges.

Responding to these actions, management of K.u.K. International branded them as without any justification in law.

A spokesman for K.u.K. International said: "The state sponsored actions are wholly disproportionate and unjustified. They threaten legitimate business operations and the rights of innocent individuals. No European business can operate on a cross-border basis if the police act without respect for basic European values and laws."

The raids come within seven days of the Berlin State Prosecutor concluding a thorough and comprehensive two-and-a-half year investigation into the affairs of the company, conducted at the request of the Polish Government within the framework of the Agreement on legal assistance between the two countries.

Polish businessman Zdzislaw Kmetko and his wife Halina as well as their German company K.u.K. -E.F.I. International Logistic + Händel GmbH did not commit money laundering or any concealment of assets, the Berlin State Prosecutor concluded following the two year investigation.

In a letter addressed to Halina Kmetko, the owner of K.u.K. and dated 28 October 2013, the office of the Berlin prosecutor notified the company that the investigation had been terminated due to lack of evidence of any violation.

Termination of the Kmetko case in Germany supports a similar decision made by the Prosecutor's office in Wroclaw which notified the company in a letter dated 31 May 2012 that it had closed its investigation into the company.

The K.u.K. International spokesman added: "The raids are without justification and directly contradict the written confirmation of the Public Prosecutor of Wroclaw from 31 May 2012 stating that no money laundering operations were undertaken by K.u.K. International.”

"This policy of state harassment of the family business of Wroclaw entrepreneur Zdzislaw Kmetko follows a consistent trend going back to the communist era of the early 1990s, and suggests a deliberate strategy of targeted, selective and vindictive actions designed to destroy the legitimate family business of K.u.K. International and to break the spirit of its owners and its employees.”

"These illegal actions will be contested vigorously in the courts, and we shall apply for remedies to protect the legitimate business interests of K.u.K. International and to defend the rights of the individuals who have been subjected to this wholly unwarranted, groundless and unjustified harassment.”

"This attempt to shut down and destroy a legitimate Polish business providing jobs for 7,000 people in Poland is a bad signal to send out at a time when the Polish economy is slowing down. We believe it is against the EU rules on the single market and against EU fundamental rights and we will be asking the relevant Commissioners in Brussels to examine this police attack on a private company that pays its taxes in Germany, Switzerland and Poland where it operates and fully complies with the law in all three countries. Clearly it suits the company's competitors to see the police raid and the attempt to shut down this business, but Poland must respect rule of law as an EU member state," the company spokesman concluded.

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