Polish Appeals Court to Decide Winiecki Libel Case on Feb. 15

Polish central banker Jan Winiecki may be dismissed from the rate-setting Monetary Policy Council if an appeals court rules the day after tomorrow that he’s guilty of libel.

An appeals court in Poznan, western Poland, today closed its hearing of Winiecki’s case and will announce a verdict on his lower-court libel conviction at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 15, Judge Leszek Matuszewski said.

The charges were brought against Winiecki by former Governor Slawomir Skrzypek, who died in a 2010 plane crash together with then-Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 94 others. Under Polish law, libel claims can be brought in criminal courts. Skrzypek’s widow maintained the allegations after a lower court ruled in August 2009 that Winiecki had libeled Skrzypek in a newspaper article saying the governor wasn’t qualified to run the Warsaw-based Narodowy Bank Polski.

Poland’s central bank law requires MPC members who’ve been convicted in criminal cases and exhausted all appeals to be removed from office. Winiecki joined the council in 2010 as one of three members approved by the Senate, which may dismiss him from the rate panel as early as its next session on Feb. 20. The Senate will have as many as three months to vote in a new candidate.

Rate Cuts

Monetary-policy makers trimmed borrowing costs by 1 percentage point since November as economy growth slowed amid the debt crisis in the euro area, which buys more than half of Polish exports. After the latest rate cut on Feb. 6, Governor Marek Belka told a news conference that the bank is maintaining its informal easing bias, meaning another cut or a decision to keep rates unchanged are “equally probable.”

The central bank’s press office, reached by phone today, said it couldn’t comment on Winiecki’s case.

Winiecki sided with the majority of policy makers in voting for quarter-point rate cuts in November and December, while rejecting motions for 50 basis-point reductions at the same meetings, according to the central bank’s website. He opposed monetary easing in October and July and was among eight policy makers who supported a rate increase in May, the data show.

Voting tallies for the January and February rate meetings aren’t yet available.

Dorota Bartyzel in Warsaw dbartyzel@bloomberg.net

Konrad Krasuski in Warsaw kkrasuski@bloomberg.net

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