Man detained over EUR 3.9-mln art scam

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Poland's Internal Security Agency (ABW) has detained a man for an alleged art scam in which he pocketed up to PLN 18 million (EUR 3.92 million) in commissions from people he had offered investment opportunities in artworks.

The man, named only as Konrad W. owing to reporting restrictions, has been charged with conducting shadow banking activities.

"Internal Security Agency officers detained in Gdynia on June 1, 2022, Konrad W., who, acting together with Joanna S. and her son Mikael S. – were organisers of a large-scale fictitious trade in artworks," the director of the National Security Department, Stanislaw Zaryn, announced on Thursday.

Zaryn explained that in the course of the investigation, ABW officers established that one of the people collaborating with Joanna S. from November 1, 2012, until at least January 1, 2017, was Konrad W.

"The man raised funds from people, burdening them with risk by offering contractors financial products in the form of investments in works of art," Zaryn said.

"Konrad W. actively sought investors and also acted as an intermediary in sales contracts with them, and then sent the signed contracts back to the company headquarters in Sweden," Zaryn explained. "In this way, he acted as intermediary in at least 25 contracts for the purchase and sale of artworks. Fulfilling the function of agent for Joanna S., his regular source of income was money from committing crimes. From commissions received, he acquired funds to the tune of over PLN 18.5 million."

The prosecutor overseeing the investigation set bail and police supervision of the suspect. So far, 12 people have been charged in connection with the case.