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By Stanislas Balcerac, Warsaw, and John Helmer, Moscow

When Radosław Sikorski was a Polish government minister, he was obliged to make an annual report to the parliament (Sejm) and a public record of his income and assets.

For Polish  voters to learn whether his wife was being rewarded for influencing her husband in his official duties, and vice versa, the annual disclosure was required to include a line for her takings. Sikorski’s wife, an American named Anne Applebaum, is paid to give public lectures and publish commentaries on foreign policy topics in which Sikorski has played an official role in the Polish government’s decision-making.

The pair are among the most vocal Russia-haters, sanction-boosters, and NATO-promoters in eastern Europe. The New York Times recently reported that Sikorski “managed…secret missions with the United States.”

For a time also, Sikorski campaigned to be Secretary-General of NATO, and High Representative for foreign affairs of the European Commission. But he was rejected by the European members of NATO and by the European Union.

“I’m honest”, Sikorski announced.  “I am not into plotting and don’t steal. I am a double victim.”

Investigation of their financial disclosures by Polish officials, he and Applebaum have tweeted,    “stinks of Russian infowar tactic”. Publication in Warsaw of tape recordings of Sikorski’s political and business scheming was called “info-attacks on West” by his supporters. The Polish prime minister didn’t see it that way and pushed Sikorski out of domestic politics.   Follow the Sicklebaum rise and fall in the comic book just published.  

Even newer, but not so comic, is the report this week in Warsaw of new investigations of Sikorski’s money-making activities while taking the salary of a member of the European Parliament (MEP). According to this report of Stanislas Balcerac,     Sikorski is accepting a large amount of money on the side – and it’s unclear who is paying, what he is doing for the payoff, and what  secret missions Sikorski is running for the US.

Neon24.pl is an independent investigative publication based in Warsaw; it is owned by the Nowy Ekran (New Screen) Foundation in Warsaw.  Russia war-fighting units in Poland, the US and EU, funded by their governments, accuse Neon24 in their regular reports on the Poles they judge to be their enemies, and Sikorski’s.  These reverse endorsements can be read in Warsaw  and Brussels   and  in Stanford, California.   

The Polish expression for Radosław Sikorski, Wystrugany z banana, means that he’s been  carved out of a banana – a political puppet, soft to tread on, yellow.

For several of his early years Sikorski studied at Oxford University where he graduated with one degree, and then bought another one for ten pounds. He also picked up a British passport until his government employment prospects improved in Warsaw and he became Polish again.     

Sikorski was not exactly forced on the Poles as a statesman. Someone decided that, and the Poles have been paying for it, for years. They also pay literally, because Sikorski has a light hand in squandering the Polish taxpayer’s money. The Warsaw restaurant tapes revealed, for example, Sikorski’s dinner with Jacek Rostowski, paid for by his official business credit card.   The bill was PLN 1352 ($340) for two people. That also included PLN 700 ($176) for a single bottle of wine – a sum which Sikorski claims he later returned to the state budget.

Source: https://www.wprost.pl/ 
US analysis: https://foreignpolicy.com/

As Poland’s foreign minister, Sikorski also approved bizarre transactions such as $40,000 to the American lawyer Gary Lachman for commercial real estate consulting,  which was unneeded;  it happened when the Foreign Ministry was buying a residence for the Polish Embassy in Washington for $9.5 million without the appropriate technical expertise.  In that mansion Ambassador Radka Ryszard Schnepf then spent PLN 300,000 [$75,375] out of the taxpayers’ coffers to renovate an already renovated bathroom. Here’s that story in detail.

As a minister, Sikorski had at his beck and call a government limousine with a bodyguard for all 24 hours of day and night. The guard and the limo even fetched for him pizzas he ordered by telephone from his home at Chobielin. That was reported in May 2014 by the daily Fakt. 

Source: https://www.fakt.pl/

It is therefore quite strange that at the same time, at least since 2009, Sikorski also began to draw from the Chancellery of the Sejm reimbursement for the kilometers deputies traveled on their parliamentary business. The weekly Wprost has calculated that in 2010 Sikorski collected PLN 21,000 [$5,276] from the Sejm for the kilometres he reported; PLN 26,500 [$6.658] in 2011, PLN 19,000 [$4,774] in 2012,  and PLN 10,000 [$2,513] in 2013. Journalists also calculated that in order to qualify for his PLN 26,500 from the Sejm’s coffers in 2011, Sikorski had to have travelled a total of  32,000 kilometers. Where and how did he manage to do that if he had a 24/24 Polish Secret Service car with state security agents?

As of 2019 Sikorski has been an MEP [Member of the European Parliament] so he earns a lot of money in euros.  But it turns out that he also pulls in money on the side as payments for contracts and services he hasn’t disclosed. In a report issued late last week, Transparency International EU has estimated that more than a quarter of the MEPs – 190 out of 705 – have reported outside earnings on top of their parliamentary salaries; and that Sikorski is the highest-paid of these MEP moonlighters with a declared range of earnings between €588,000 and €804,000. It’s quite a fortune.

Source: https://transparency.eu/
Read more: www.politico.eu/

While MEPs are legally allowed to receive additional external income, organisations like  Transparency International EU warn that the data on sources of income reported are often unclear and that the tasks performed “on the side” can trigger a conflict of interest. In the case of Sikorski, the large amount of money he has registered on the side is intriguing. Sikorski is not reputed to have special expertise; in addition to Polish he speaks English like all hotel receptionists in Europe. What can Sikorski be offering in order to earn such large sums? Earlier, similarly large and controversial sums were collected  by his wife Anne Applebaum; that information was published in the annual income and  property declarations of Sikorski as state minister and Sejm deputy. Read the documents here.   

In response to the news from Transparency International EU, Sikorski told Politico his outside income was “much smaller” than was reported last week, and that he was the victim of double-counting. “This is because the declaration of financial interests to the European Parliament includes several listings that have been made twice in order to satisfy reporting requirements.”  Sikorski added that he “will update the declaration to make this clearer,” pointing to separate income declarations he has made to the Polish parliamentary administration.

Source: https://www.sejm.gov.pl

Sikorski has been an elected MEP for three years, so his first report of income and assets was filed at the Sejm Chancellery  in July 2019. The most recent report was lodged six months ago, in April of this year.

The European Parliament allows MEPs to fudge their accounting by giving a lower and upper range for their takings. The Polish Sejm requires more precision. Sikorski’s Polish balance-sheet for the past three years shows either that Sikorski’s business has been getting worse since he was elected, or else the pizzas are getting delivered to another address. In this tabulation from Part VII of the Sejm reports, the zlotys have been converted to US dollars at the average exchange rate for that year.

Zlotys converted to US dollars at the rate for the year

Compiled from Sejm reports.

Opening each of Sikorski’s annual reports to the Sejm, it appears his biggest sources of outside income have been consulting firms he calls his own, Sikorski Global and Consilium Global Partners.  The former was registered at Sikorski’s home address in Chobielin in November 2015 and appears to be part-owned by Applebaum, with whom, according to the registration papers, Sikorski has a “marriage contract”.  What exactly Sikorski Global sells for a living is not clear from its single-page website.  

Consilium Global Partners is a one-man company Sikorski registered in London in September 2016, and then abandoned in 2021.  In between, Sikorski claimed to be resident in the UK. In the UK Companies House record for Consilium, Sikorski reported no income for 2017. This shot up to £94,684 in 2018, but after deducting his debts, his net was  £65,972. That then dwindled to £25,161 in 2019. In September of 2020 Sikorski filed to de-register and dissolve his company.

However, Sikorski told the Sejm a different story from the one reported to UK Companies House. According to the Polish reports, Sikorski trousered £17,000 from Consilium in 2019, and increased the amount to £55,000 in 2020.

An annual convention operated for the past decade by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government called the Sir Bani Yas Forum has been a regular source of $100,000 per year for Sikorski, according to the Sejm documents. This UAE operation describes itself as a “forum…to discuss vital issues relevant to peace and security in the Middle East. The event, which ran from 15th to 17th November, featured constructive debates and discussions around critical challenges confronting regional and world states in the Middle East. The setting of this retreat fostered open dialogues about difficult yet essential issues and allowed new ideas to be debated and developed. The participants were current and former foreign ministers from around the world, as well as a select number of international policy experts. They were convened to share their expertise and understanding of regional issues.”  

The UAE government hasn’t said who is on its invitation list.  Until Sikorski revealed it to the Polish public, the money the UAE pays its guests has been a state secret.

An inquiry has been sent to Luci Posteraro from Transparency International EU asking who pays Sikorski for what. No reply has been received yet. In addition, the Sejm administration has been asked to explain why Sikorski’s reports as an MEP appear to exclude his wife’s earnings and assets following the years when Sikorski was a Sejm deputy and she was included in the disclosures.

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