Region: Bourse head dismissed for 'immoral behavior'
Sobolewski steps down after soliciting funds for girlfriend's film
Posted: January 23, 2013
Ludwik Sobolewski, whom the Treasury Ministry asked to resign as president of the Warsaw Stock Exchange Jan. 16, attends a discussion on "Stock Exchange-Financial Market, Commodity Market" during the XXII Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdrój Sept. 5, 2012. The call came after Sobolewski was found to have solicited listed companies for investment in his girlfriend's film.
The Warsaw Stock Exchange has replaced its president, Ludwik Sobolewski, over allegations he used his business contacts to solicit funding to finance a movie in which his actress-girlfriend was starring. The vote took place Jan. 16 at the request of Polish Treasury Minister Mikołaj Budzanowski.
The ministry holds 51.7 percent of shares in the company, which means no other shareholders could block Budzanowski's plan. Nevertheless, the motion was supported by 36.527 million votes, with only 49,970 votes against. At the next minister's request, the general assembly of the stock exchange has appointed Sobolewski's former deputy, Adam Maciejewski, as the new temporary president. He will stay in the position until 2014, when the formal procedure of selecting the president for the next four-year term will take place.
"The recent media reports concerning the stock exchange did not refer to the merits of its work. […] It's high time for the stock exchange to reappear in the economic press, not as a result of another personnel change in the management board but due to its successes in the further development of the company and the capital market," the ministry wrote in an official statement.
The scandal with Sobolewski was first exposed by the daily Puls Biznesu last October. Sobolewski and one of his subordinates were found to be soliciting listed companied to invest in The Curse of the Pharaoh, a film starring Anna Szarek, Sobolewski's partner. Proposals had been sent from the office mailbox, which raised concerns of some of the approached companies that they would lose the goodwill of the president if they refused. Media speculations were later confirmed by an audit, ordered by the treasury minister.
In his December announcement, Sobolewski assured stakeholders the Warsaw Stock Exchange itself had not participated in financing the production, and he maintained that he had not violated professional ethics.
Meanwhile, the minister has asked the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) to investigate the fundraising operation.
"We have received additional information concerning the subject from the ministry, and we are currently analyzing it," CBA spokesman Jacek Dobrzyński said, emphasizing the CBA had not launched an official investigation.
Even though Sobolewski may not have broken the law, he definitely abused moral standards, according to Grzegorz Myśliwiec, an expert on business ethics at the Warsaw School of Economics.
"The stock exchange board has set very high standards for the president, but with people in high positions, we demand more than just obeying the law. In this way, we want to send the message that in Poland, it is not allowed to use one's professional position for any other aims than stipulated in the contract," he said.
Before the scandal broke, Sobolewski's work had been well-assessed in business circles. In a Jan. 17 article, The Financial Times even called him "one of the most successful chief executives."
Sobolewski had held the position since 2006. The Warsaw Stock Exchange is the biggest exchange in Central and Eastern Europe. It has 439 companies listed, worth nearly 761 billion złoty ($242 billion).
Karolina Drogowska can be reached at