Poland: anti-corruption bureau starts work on Monday

The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, a special services unit, will focus on checking politicians' personal wealth declarations and ensuring that privatization deals are clean, said its director, Mariusz Kaminski.

The bureau was a key campaign promise of the governing Law and Justice party, rooted in the anti-communist Solidarity movement,that came to power last year on pledges to fight crime and corruption.

With powers equivalent to a secret police force, the bureau has been given the right to tap telephones and spend up to nine months in private and publicly owned companies suspected of wrongdoing, drawing criticism from groups including private business owners.

The Democratic Left Alliance, an opposition party that includes the ex-communists, also opposes the bureau out of fears its members will be singled out in revenge. It maintains the bureau violates constitutional guarantees of privacy and on Monday filed a complaint with Poland's highest court.

Corruption in Poland flourished in the communist era when goods and services where hard to get on the regular market and has persisted as a problem since the transition to democracy in 1989-1990, according to te AP.