Bogumiła Górnikowska, daughter of former justice minister Zbigniew Ćwiąkalski, took over the apartment building as a legal representative of the property’s former owner -- who was long dead at the time the restitution decision was issued by officials, the Fakt tabloid reported on Thursday.
Górnikowska, who is a lawyer, made the transaction in 2008 when Ćwiąkalski was justice minister in the Civic Platform-led government of Donald Tusk, according to Fakt.
In the deal, Górnikowska represented a former owner named Aleksander Piekarski, whose whereabouts were unknown to officials -- and no wonder, Fakt said, because the man was 50 years dead at the time of the transaction.
The residential building in question is at 13 Joteyki St. in Warsaw’s Ochota district and is worth millions, according to the paper. Before World War II, half of the building belonged to Piekarski, who was born in 1889, according to Fakt.
Two lawyers brought claims for the restitution of the building decades later, and Górnikowska was one of them, according to the tabloid.
If still alive, Piekarski would have been 118 at the time the restitution decision was issued in 2008, Fakt noted.
It was only a few years later that the tenants themselves - who carried out their own investigation – found out that Piekarski had died in 1958, Fakt added.
Suspected web of malpractice
A new parliamentary commission set up to probe controversial property restitution cases in Poland is conducting hearings into a suspected web of malpractice.
The commission is investigating a scandal over the restitution of prime real estate in the Polish capital that has seen the dismissal of several officials at Warsaw City Hall, and calls for mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz to resign.
The origins of the scandal date back to the seizure of property under the October 1945 Bierut Decree, named after former Polish communist leader Bolesław Bierut, which legalised the confiscation of plots of private land in Warsaw.
Thousands of private buildings were taken from their owners. After the fall of communism in Poland in 1989 it has been possible to submit claims for the return of such confiscated property.