Poland: Company Tied to Secret Services May Win Iraqi Tender

Publisher Name: 
Polish News Bulletin

If there is one Polish person who can expect to make money selling weapons and equipment for the Iraqi army, it will be a person who stands on the sidelines, aware that his company would be necessary -- regardless of who wins the contract in Baghdad. This person is Leszek Cichocki, owner of a company called Nat Import-Export. Cichocki is going to make money -- and it does not matter whether it's Bumar or Nour who wins the contract. Bumar requested Cichocki to find equipment which is not produced by Polish weapons producers, and which was necessary to supplement Bumar's offer. The Nat company is a co-founder of the Polish Chamber of Defence Producers -- an autonomous organisation of domestic weapon sector companies. The Chamber signed a letter of intent with Nour, declaring the readiness of its members to sell to the Iraq market. Leszek Cichocki is deputy chairman of the Chamber.

Cichocki is a person about whom little is known. The history of his company dates back to 1990, to the famous operation when CIA agents were scurried out of Iraq with the help of Polish special forces. This is when the Polish-American partnership of secret services was born. It was an expression of gratitude for saving the agents. The Polish government allowed also the National Security Agency to place electronic intelligence devices along Poland's eastern border. In 1991, the USA asked Poland to sell a lot of weapons and military equipment to anti-communist guerillas in Afghanistan. There was one important condition: the Americans did not want any of the state-controlled weapons trade organizations to participate in the deal. Most probably, they did not trust such firms as Cenzin or Bumar, as they believed they were too closely tied to the Soviets. Intelligence service of the Office for State Security (UOP) was asked by the CIA to find a little-known company that would guarantee full discretion of the operation. The Polish authorities were to issue all necessary permits for weapons trade to the selected agent. Head of Polish civil intelligence -- Gromoslaw Czempinski -- recommended Leszek Chichocki, with whom he used to work in the foreign intelligence services.

In the early 1990's Leszek Cichocki owned the Nat Import-Export company, which imported textiles and stationery goods from the Far East. This meant he had the appropriate logistical backup and a solid front, enabling him to carry out undercover operations. Another advantage of Cichocki was the fact that he used to work in the civil intelligence forces, and passed the vetting procedure. He could not work at the UOP, as his wife was Russian. The wife turned out to be an advantage -- thanks to her nationality, the Russian intelligence services did not suspect Cichocki of anti-Russian dealings. The value of weapons smuggled during the operation reached $80m. After that transaction, Nat was believed to be a company tied to the intelligence services. In mid-1990's, the company participated in a Center for Trade with the East, an organization initiated by the services. It included several companies, who were expected to serve as a cover for the operations of economic intelligence services. Cichocki is also said to be tied to the Military Intelligence Services (WSI). His company has closed several lucrative deals for the deliveries of weapons and other military equipment. His customers include the Polish Navy, and the army in Angola, where he sold armored personnel carriers.

Cichocki's chances are growing after the US Department of Defense cancelled the first tender for equipment for the American army. The results of the new tender will be decided in Washington D.C., and not in Baghdad. It does not matter which Polish firm would be among the winners. When it would seek partners in Poland, it will remember that Nat is well-known to the CIA. The CIA wants to spend American taxpayers' money wisely, designated for equipping the Iraq army. Moreover, Nat is a privately owned company. One of the conditions set by Pentagon for the tender is that the procedure is open only to those companies, where the share of the state does not exceed 5 percent. Bumar, for one, certainly does not comply with that requirement.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering