Secret agent holds Poland in thrall

WARSAW, Poland — Britain has James Bond, America has Maxwell Smart and Poland has a combination of the two: the so-called Agent Tomasz, a spy responsible for unearthing corruption scandals who has in the process become a national laughingstock.

The mysterious Agent Tomasz works for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), an agency created in 2006 to root out corruption among Poland’s business and political elites. Under the guidance of Mariusz Kaminski, a former politician turned self-styled law-and-order sheriff, the CBA has been involved in a series of high-profile investigations, many of which have featured the glamorous secret agent Tomasz.

His first big break was in a sting operation aimed against Beata Sawicka, a member of parliament for the centrist Civic Platform party. Sawicka was a little known backbench politician who had never been suspected of corruption. Agent Tomasz ended up sweeping the plain-looking parliamentarian off her feet, and persuading her to accept a $37,000 bribe for assisting in a seaside land deal.

“He was younger than me, he dressed well, had a sporty Mercedes with a white interior, lots of money in his wallet, he smelled nice, had white teeth, gold jewelry and long curly hair,” Sawicka testified during her trial. “He covered me in kisses, my head was spinning.”

She was arrested just before the 2007 elections, during which her Civic Platform party was fighting for power with Kaminski’s right-wing Law and Justice party.

The incident “commands one to consider for whom one should cast one’s vote,” Kaminski said just before the election, in a news conference announcing Sawicka’s arrest.

That comment got Kaminski accused of trying to interfere in politics, but didn’t manage to prevent a Civic Platform victory in the election. Donald Tusk, the new prime minister, surprisingly didn’t immediately fire Kaminski, which allowed Agent Tomasz to continue his cloak and dagger activities.

His next target was Weronika Marczuk-Pazura, the blond and curvaceous hostess of one of Poland’s televised dancing shows. He flashed a fat billfold, and impressed her and her friends with his Porsche and his Harley, while asking for her help in setting up business deals in neighboring Ukraine.

“He tried to seduce me,” she told Polish television.

Marczuk-Pazura was arrested earlier this year with about $35,000 in a paper bag, money she says was payment her office was owed by Agent Tomasz for services. The CBA maintains it was a bribe.

Agent Tomasz was also involved in a bungled attempt to entrap Jolanta Kwasniewska, the wife of former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, an ideological foe of the rabidly anti-communist Kaminski.

The CBA was convinced that the Kwasniewskis were the secret owners of a house in Kazimierz Dolny, an attractive historic town about 100 miles from Warsaw. Agent Tomasz set up a deal to buy the house, paying the listed price of $600,000, but agreeing to pay an additional $550,000 in cash to the intermediary arranging the sale. The idea was that the intermediary would take the cash, which was stashed in a bag equipped with a GPS transmitter, to the Kawasniewskis, allowing the CBA to arrest them.

The plan collapsed during the signing, when the intermediary took the money out of the bugged bag, and handed the bag back to a startled Agent Tomasz. Fearing the loss of their money, CBA agents quickly stepped in, which killed the sting operation. Now the legal owner of the house no longer owns it, as the sale was officially notarized, but Agent Tomasz was using a fictitious name, and no money was transferred to pay for the house, so its final ownership is unclear, although it may be the state treasury.

After three spectacular operations, Agent Tomasz’s cloak-and-dagger career appears to be over. During his seduction of Marczuk-Pazura, one of her friends took a picture of the grinning Lothario, white teeth gleaming in a big grin with a shirt open halfway down his chest. Now that picture is making the rounds of the country. It has been sent to thousands of cell phones — his photo is the most popular downloaded message in Warsaw — and featured on the front pages of the country’s leading tabloids.

A parliamentary commission is now investigating Agent Tomasz, who got his start working as a beat cop before going on to do undercover operations.

Kaminski, his former boss who was recently fired by Prime Minister Donald Tusk for trying to entrap him in an unrelated scandal, is trying to defend his star agent.

In a recent interview, Kaminski claimed that Agent Tomasz had been involved in fighting international criminal gangs, and that his life was in danger, adding that his agent was not a gigolo.

Gigolo or not, the seductive Agent Tomasz’s days of speeding about in a government Porsche are done.