A Polish national who fled to the U.S. after being found guilty in a massive fraud case dating back to the country’s communist era is fighting his extradition while imprisoned in Florida.
Dariusz Przywieczerski fled his home country to avoid incarceration. He was found guilty in 2005 of being involved in a scheme to illegally trade in foreign debt at a state agency controlled by the communist secret service.
The fraud involving the Foreign Debt Servicing Fund, known as FOZZ, cost the country’s treasury the equivalent of about 80 million euros in the late 1980s.
Several others involved were given prison sentences in Poland.
Living in Florida
The 72-year-old was arrested in October 2017 in Florida, where he has been residing. He has since been fighting his extradition and has a pending case with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
He has been given until November 5 to submit a written brief and is representing himself without an attorney.
In court documents, Przywieczerski claimed to be impoverished and suffering from numerous ailments, including diabetes and “significant hearing loss.”
He remains under the supervision of the U.S. Marshals Service, the federal agency that tracks down fugitives.
“He is still in our custody in the Pinellas County Jail, in Florida,” spokesman Ron Lindbak told AFP.
Claims trial unfair
Przywieczerski claimed in court his rights to a fair trial and due process were being violated, and that a U.S. judge erred in approving his extradition.
“I did not receive a fair trial in Poland, and the prosecution should have been barred by statute of limitations,” he wrote in federal court petition.
“The Polish judge was not impartial and advocated for a special law to enlarge the statute of limitations solely for my prosecution. My Polish convictions must be considered null and void.”
FOZZ, which was closely controlled by the secret services in the early 1990s, was set up by the central European nation’s last Communist regime to buy back Poland’s external debt.
FOZZ bosses moved the funds earmarked for the debt buy-up through fictitious offshore companies, described by prosecutors during a marathon trial nearly two decades ago as “a parade of swindlers.”
Credit: Voice of America (VOA) | Photo Credit: AP