UPDATE 1-Polish prosecutors to investigate Orlen takeover of Lotos, MP says






Adds comments from Morawiecki and Tusk

- Polish prosecutors will investigate state-controlled oil company Orlen's acquisition of smaller rival Lotos, acting on a complaint made in 2022, a member of parliament for the coalition government said on Tuesday.

The company sold some Lotos assets to buyers including Saudi Aramco 2222.SE and Hungary's MOL MOLB.BU to meet EU antitrust rulings, but opposition politicians at the time said they were sold too cheaply.

Agnieszka Pomaska, a lawmaker in the pro-European coalition government that took power last month, said she had informed prosecutors that a crime may have been committed in December 2022 but only received a response last week.

"The prosecutor's office investigation will concern contracts related to both the merger of Lotos and Orlen, but will also concern the sale of Lotos," Pomaska told reporters.

"The prosecutor's office says directly that significant financial damage could have been caused to Orlen, no less than 4 billion zlotys ($994 million)."

There was no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the buyers of the assets.

In an emailed comment, Orlen said the merger was a transparent process, "supervised and controlled by a number of institutions".

"All merger transactions were carried out in accordance with provisions of law and under the supervision of Polish and European authorities," it added.

Former Prime Minster Mateusz Morawiecki said the transaction was carried out in a "model way".

Pomaska said prosecutors would also investigate the head of the country's antitrust watchdog, who approved the asset sales, adding that the sale of Lotos assets had damaged Poland's energy security.

The UOKiK watchdog did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Pomaska said that company board members could face between three months and 10 years in prison if found guilty of abuse of power.

Asked whether the sale of Lotos assets could be reversed, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said it was too early to say but that lawyers would look into it.

Since coming to power in December, the new government has set about undoing reforms that critics said had politicised Poland's judicial system. It has also been holding to account people connected to the former nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) administration it accuses of wrongdoing.

PiS has rejected such criticism.

($1 = 4.0240 zlotys)

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Goodman)


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