Varsovians are fed up with the situation with Warsaw properties and are looking forward to an adequate solution of this issue that would involve judging the criminals and compensating the rightful heirs in order to close this matter finally. The scale of theft associated with the so-called ‘wild reprivatization’ is huge. Investments in Warsaw are encountering problems because of the uncertainty arising out of the restitution claims. Yesterday the prosecutor’s office arrested another series of suspects involved in the reprivatization scandal, including advocates and people linked to one of the former presidents of Poland. The verification committee will start working soon. Yesterday the chairman of the committee was chosen while the other members will be appointed by the Polish Parliament next week. The law allowing for the investigation into the scandal came into force on 5 May 2017.
The role of the verification committee is to analyse the restitution decisions and focus on the doubtful ones. There were approx. 4,000 Warsaw properties which were handed over to people who had claimed to be the heirs of the rightful owners. How many of them were really the genuine heirs of the genuine owners is to be established by the committee. There are grounds to believe that many documents were forged and that the circle of corruption run up to advocates, town hall officials, judges and property developers, who all closely co-operated in stealing Warsaw properties. The verification committee should go step by step by the restitution decisions and carry out investigation on whether a given property was handed over to rightful heirs. The restitution decisions are closely linked to the inheritance proceedings which were carried out before the Polish courts. In many instances, Wills and power of attorneys were forged in order to illegally obtain a favourable inheritance confirmation. Some of the judges turned a blind eye to this issue by accepting war-time Wills written by ballpoint pens or power of attorneys issued by people who would be over 150 years old. The committee will also have to investigate the inheritance proceedings in order to properly re-evaluate the restitution decisions.
The committee should also look into the business of the so-called ‘claim traders’. In many cases the genuine heirs were forced to sell their claims for a song to those who were well-connected. If the committee finds out that a property was illegally restituted, then it will cancel the restitution decision and issue another administrative decision seizing unlawfully restituted property. The committee also has the power to impose an obligation to return all undue benefits gained from restitution decision, especially if the property was sold
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