October 20, 2016 / 4:20 PM / 3 years ago

Poland says anti-corruption body to examine scrapped Airbus deal

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s anti-corruption authorities will examine a canceled helicopter deal with France’s Airbus, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said on Thursday.

Macierewicz also accused Airbus of misleading public opinion in Poland about the number of jobs which would have been created to service the contract, under which Poland was to buy 50 multi-purpose helicopters from the French aircraft maker.

Citing inadequate benefits for the domestic economy, Poland scrapped the deal earlier this month, angering the French and prompting President Francois Hollande to cancel a planner visit to Warsaw.

In an open letter sent to Poland, Airbus had said it had an “ambition” to create 6,000 jobs in Poland, out of which the helicopter deal would have created 3,800, including 1,250 direct jobs mainly in the Polish cities of Lodz, Radom and Deblin.

“There is no guarantee for 6,000 jobs for Poland in return for handing over 13.5 billion zlotys ($3.4 billion) to an international corporation ... in any of the documents, and I have looked into them very carefully,” Macierewicz told parliament.

“The Anti-Corruption Bureau will now be looking into these documents,” he added, speaking during a debate on the deal.

He did not say what particular aspect of the deal would come under the scrutiny of the anti-corruption team, but he accused some opposition lawmakers of acting against the state in favoring an international corporation.

The preliminary deal to buy the helicopters was agreed by the previous government led by the centrist Civic Platform party shortly before it lost last year’s election.

The previous government’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, who oversaw negotiations in the provisional deal, has told Polish media the deal was canceled due to political reasons which resulted in a “lost year” for the Polish army.

Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders has accused Poland of misleading the company during negotiations and threatened further action, without giving details.

The row adds to mounting displeasure with Poland in the European Union over issues such as migration and the rule of law. It also threatens to delay a vast army modernization plan at a time of increased Russian assertiveness in eastern Europe.

“The turmoil around multi-role helicopters means chaos and helplessness and harm for the Polish army,” Civic Platform MP Kazimierz Plocke said during Thursday’s debate.

($1 = 3.9589 zlotys)

Reporting by Marcin Goettig and Pawel Sobczak; Writing by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Alison Williams

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