7 charged with corruption over shale gas in Poland

January 11, 2012 - 9:30 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Seven people, including government officials, have been charged with corruption during the granting of licenses for shale gas exploration in Poland, a spokesman for prosecutors said Wednesday.

Waldemar Tyl of the Warsaw Appeals Prosecutor's Office, who announced the charges, said bribes of tens of thousands of zlotys (dollars) were handed over in the second half of 2011 alone.

The Internal Security Agency said three Environment Ministry officials, an employee of the state Geology Institute and three representatives of companies involved in shale gas exploration were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in bribery.

Polish media said one of those arrested headed the ministry in charge of granting licenses.

Poland, which is trying to limit its dependence on gas and oil imports from Russia, is believed to have sizable shale gas deposits. It has granted more than 100 licenses for shale gas exploration to international companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Petrolinvest.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said his government is determined to take strong action against corruption, especially in cases concerning important state interests and large amounts of money.