Prosecutors have charged three people with fraudulently selling for human consumption grain from Ukraine that was actually meant for industrial purposes.
Earlier this year, it emerged that such so-called “technical grain” has been missold in Poland. That prompted the agriculture minister to announce inspections of companies importing grain and prosecutors to launch an investigation.
Since then, prosecutors in the city of Rzeszów, who are leading the investigation, have initiated 92 proceedings and conducted 283 searches, securing documentation relating to the entities under investigation.
The agriculture minister has ordered checks on all grain importers after prosecutors launched an investigation into reports that wheat from Ukraine meant for industrial purposes has been sold in Poland for human consumption https://t.co/hXrO57DPy4
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) April 12, 2023
Yesterday, they announced that they had brought their first charges against three people suspected of involvement in the fraudulent trade. None of the suspects’ personal details, such as names or nationality, have been revealed.
The first has been charged with defrauding a Polish grain trading company by selling to it more than 111 tons of wheat imported from Ukraine as technical grain and concealing its real origin and status. The established financial damage was estimated at nearly 150,000 zlotys (€33,550).
The second suspect has been charged with forging documents relating to the classification of wheat grain purchased in Ukraine and with financial fraud. The value of the goods in the invoices amounted to more than 91,000 zloty (€20,357).
The third heard a charge of customs fraud on goods valued at over 6.3 million zloty (€1.4 million). The Gazeta Wyborcza daily reports that the industrial grain was sold to mills, which produced flour from it that was sold in turn to bakeries.
Śledztwo zbożowe. Mąka ze 100 ton ukraińskiej pszenicy technicznej trafiła do piekarni w Polsce. Prokuratura postawiła zarzutyhttps://t.co/P2IgvaNtIX
— Colanatan (@Colanatan31) August 15, 2023
The issue of the Ukrainian grain exports through the EU – which were meant as an economic lifeline to Kyiv following Russia’s invasion and blockade of Black Sea ports – has caused controversy in Poland, with farmers claiming it has lowered prices on the market.
That led the Polish government to introduce a unilateral ban on both import and transit in April. Soon after, the EU agreed to keep the import ban for Poland and four other eastern member states.
That is due to expire next month. Warsaw has pushed strongly for it to be extended, and warned that it will introduce a unilateral ban again if it is not. But Kyiv has urged Brussels to drop the ban and criticised Poland for its “unfriendly and populist” approach.
Ukraine has accused Warsaw of “unfriendly and populist” actions after it called on the EU to extend the ban on Ukrainian grain imports
But Poland says Kyiv has misunderstood its intention, which is to continue transit of grain while keeping the import ban https://t.co/FjDIS0PaR6
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) July 21, 2023
Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.
Main image credit: 42 North / Pexels
Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.