Euro Zealots Want to Sabotage Me, Polish Central Banker Says

(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s central bank governor blamed political enemies for entangling him in a corruption scandal and pushing the country to join the euro area against his wishes.

In an interview with pro-government weekly Sieci published Monday, Governor Adam Glapinski said he received “various signals” suggesting opposition politicians, with possible backing from abroad, were behind media reports aimed at undermining his reputation by linking him to a bribery scandal at the financial regulator.

The departure and ensuing arrest of Glapinski’s colleague, Marek Chrzanowski, for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a bank owner has rocked the financial establishment and is undermining government support before elections next year. The governor’s comments suggest a conspiracy aimed at pushing Poland’s $525 billion economy into the euro region, which the opposition called absurd.

“This is about undermining my authority and prestige, so that in a year’s time -- after a potential election victory -- they can try to get rid of me,” Glapinski said. “Without changing the central bank governor and the Monetary Policy Council, such a march toward euro membership won’t be easy, simple or fast. In fact, it may not be possible at all.”

Glapinski’s spokesman wasn’t available for further comment. Krystyna Skowronska, a lawmaker for the Civic Platform opposition party and deputy head of parliament’s powerful public finance committee, said the allegations were ridiculous, especially since Poland is obliged to join the euro as part of its EU membership commitments.

Franco-German Initiative?

“Instead of attacking the opposition, he should clarify all doubts in the case and show himself as fully independent from politics,” she told Bloomberg. “He’s treating the subject of monetary union accession as a personal attack. This doesn’t only run contrary to logic and the idea of an autonomous central bank, but it’s also in bad taste.”

Euro adoption would “radically limit” Poland’s “economic sovereignty,” leaving authorities with “marginal competences,” a weaker competitive position and slowing growth, Glapinski said. Euro-area heavyweights Germany and France want a political success to help neutralize the bloc’s continued crises and none would be bigger than absorbing Poland into the single-currency region, he said.

It’s “no coincidence” that Polish opposition parties have recently also made euro entry a top policy goal, Glapinski said. Ditching the Polish currency would primarily benefit “big banks and institutions, which are largely foreign-owned,” he said.

Glapinski, a close associate of ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said that for the zealots who want to push Poland into the euro, political calculations of membership trump economic ones. Under Kaczynski’s reign since 2015, Poland has battled its European Union partners on issues ranging from immigration to upholding the rule of law.

EU ‘Rebel’

By adopting the euro, “Poland would stop being an insubordinate student,” he said. “Albeit one that’s quickly gaining in strength, that has its own views about economics, politics and defence issues, and one that sometimes rebels.”

Glapinski, who had called Chrzanowski “impeccably honest, straightforward, patriotic, and professional to the highest degree” after the scandal broke, sought to distance himself from his colleague in the interview. He said that even though they worked at the same university, they were from “slightly different worlds.”

Their close ties were on display, however, when Glapinski surprisingly attended Chrzanowski’s first meeting with journalists after becoming the financial watchdog in 2016. Both men talked up plans to merge the regulator with the central bank.

Knowing that euro adoption will be difficult on his watch, the opposition, if it wins power, may seek to link the zloty to the euro in a system similar to that seen in Denmark or Bulgaria, which would also have “fatal” consequences for Poland, Glapinski said.

“Everything is possible, even something that could be seen as a financial coup d’etat.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.