Sports Minister from Poland Quits In Middle of Gambling Law Inquiry

06 October 2009

Miroslaw Drzewiecki, Sports Minister of Poland, resigned his position Monday amid allegations of corruption. His name was mentioned in transcripts in connection to an anticorruption investigation. He is alleged to have tried to use his influence to help pass a new gambling law benefiting the gambling industry. The transcripts were of recorded conversations between a member of parliament and the owners of gambling companies. The transcripts were published last week in the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

Mr. Drzewiecki states he is innocent and that the investigation will prove that he is falsely accused. He stated that he resigned in order to prevent this scandal from affecting Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his government.

Mr. Tusk was elected in 2007 with high expectations for reform, but those reforms have been derailed by the economic crisis and by vetoes by Polish President Lech Kaczynski. In an interesting aside, Mr. Tusk unseated President Kaczynski’s twin brother Jaroslaw as Prime Minister. Mr. Tusk has stated that he plans to run against President Kaczynski in the presidential elections to be held next year. Some speculate political motives in the accusations. A scandal at this time linked with Prime Minister Tusk, could greatly weaken his position heading into next years elections.

The new law was meant to raise taxes to help offset the costs of the European Soccer Championships, being hosted by Poland and the Ukraine in 2012. Delays in preparations have led the European soccer officials to think about relocating the tournament.