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Scandal-hit PZU gets new CEO

POLAND - Agata Rowinska has today been appointed  by the Treasury as new chief executive to the Polish insurance giant PZU.

Formerly chairman of the board of supervisors to state-controlled PZU, she succeeds Jaromir Netzel who was dismissed as CEO by the government last Friday.

This latest move followed allegations suggesting Netzel was involved in an, as yet unconfirmed, case of insider trading which may also involve former ministers.

However, a parliamentary committee had already called for Netzel's resignation in July, arguing its main concerns were the strategic direction of the PZU and its operational processes under the current chief executive.

Netzel's removal had left only one member on the board of PZU, Beata Kozlowska-Chyla, until today - a situation which concerned the supervisor KNF.

"According to the law, there should be at least two members of the board appointed with the KNF's approval, including the CEO," a spokesman for KNF told IPE prior to the appointment of Rowinska. "We hope the board will be strengthened as soon as possible. If not, we cannot exclude further supervisory actions."

Netzel's dismissal is the latest departure of a senior PZU member. Poland's former monopoly insurance company, which owns the country's third-largest pension fund, saw its vice-chairpersons Mirosław Panek and Jolanta Strzelecka leave in July. 

Earlier this year, the chief executive of PTE PZU, Piotr Rzeniczak, resigned after only a few months in the job.

And in October last year, minority shareholder the Dutch-based insurance group Eureko withdrew its representatives from the PZU Management Boards.

"The decision to withdraw was taken to protect its representatives from ongoing harassment and intimidation from fellow PZU board members appointed by the Polish Ministry of State Treasury," Eureko said in a statement.

In an ongoing legal battle, Eureko continues to hold the Polish government to its privatisation promise made about PZU in the year 2000.

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