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Polish fuel mafia

by Marta Pietrzak 

The Polish government has been struggled with a mafia fuel for many years and as it turns out, it wins this fight. Activities of the fuel mafia in Poland has a long story that is slowly beginning to pass into history.

Activity of the fuel mafia has begun many years ago. Already in 1991, there were activities of illegal transportation of crude oil on the Polish territory and also the illegal release of fuel in military units for the fuel mafia needs. Unfortunately, this case has never been resolved and mafia representatives have not suffered any consequences because of their activities due to the Polish law expiry of the limitation period.

The 2002 year was breakthrough. During this year it was revealed the majority of illegal fuel trading activities. Thanks to journalists, one of the key Polish newspaper ‘Rzeczpospolita’, there was a sheer magnitude of the fuel mafia crimes. In this time also authorities of the country for the first time agreed on the structure of the fuel mafia. The Attorney General’s Office divided fuel mafia into four groups. The first group consisted of the chief heads, also known as ‘Barons of fuel’. They were brains in the fuel crimes. Another group were ‘Liaisons’ – people responsible for the efficient information flow between ‘Barons” and other mafia workers. Another function had ‘the Contractor Services’ as the name suggests,  they performed mafia commands. Typically their function was to setting all kinds of companies and finding, also hiring, people on whom the companies had to be established. The last and also the most interesting group were ‘Bait people”. These people were often homeless or addicted to some kind of stimulants, especially they were drug addicts or alcoholics. These individuals were serving their personal data for a small reward and by such persons mafia assumed a lot illegal companies.

Unfortunately, despite catching main fuel mafia bosses and making public most of the crimes, fuel activity has continued to grow. White-collar criminals had developed their thriving business for the next five years and thereafter it broke another fuel scandal. This time the mafia fuel seized Silesia District. Criminal group extorted from the Treasury about 500 million Polish zloty.

It’s been almost 10 years from the 2007 fuel  scandal… and mafia still exists… And most interestingly, main bosses were and are persons holding high positions in the public authorities, including representatives of the uniformed services.

However, the current government is trying to introduce very restrictive solutions. Beata Szydło, the Prime Minister of Poland, has been started skillful fight against the mafia fuel through the introduction of so-called ‘package of fuel’. Since then revenues from the VAT tax and excise will be significantly higher, at least for a 200 million Polish zloty per month. These actions will lead to the revenue increase in the budget of the Polish state from the legal fuel sales.

About the fuel mafia and ways of destroying such activities, circulates a lot of very different stories. However, we should note that mostly the police and the other departments actions did not bring appropriate effects. Mostly, Polish uniformed services were not able to break down the biggest gangs. Sometimes, we do not realize that fight with criminals should start from the inside and should rely on eliminate the source of activity ‘white criminals’.

The growing demand for legal fuel and shrinking the informal economy are the effects of new legal solutions, introduced by the current government. As practice shows, there are solutions that bring measurable effects, certainly much more effective than a direct fight against criminals carried out by uniformed services.

Marta Pietrzak
Lawyer, journalist, traveler. She loves Italian cuisine and oriental dishes. Specialist in Polish immigration law. Assistant of the Legal Aid Department at Papug.pl