Warsaw, Poland – Late last week, Spanish police arrested a fugitive described by local authorities as “a multi-millionaire” and “most-wanted man in Poland”.
Spanish authorities initially only identified the man by his initials, M.A.F. and didn’t specify the details of the arrest, only disclosing that the Polish national had been located and taken into custody near the city of Valencia. Spanish police later revealed more details, saying he was arrested in the Spanish Mediterranean seaside city of Cullera, a few kilometers south of Valencia.
Poland’s Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński later confirmed that the fugitive was millionaire and businessman Marek Falenta.
On Twitter, Polish law-enforcement authorities congratulated their Spanish counterparts for their “solid work” and “excellent international cooperation” in the arrest of one of Poland’s most wanted fugitives.
Marek Falenta, once among the top 100 fortunes in Poland, was a key figure in a massive eavesdropping and wiretapping scandal that shook Poland five years ago. Accused of illegally recording conversations of influential officials in upscale Warsaw restaurants for monetary gain, Marek Falenta introduced a system for waiters to make audio recordings on the discussions of the restaurants’ VIP guests and customers.
Some of these recordings were eventually published in the media, with analysts considering it contributed to the fall of the Civic Platform’s government and loss in the 2015 national elections, to the benefit of currently-ruling Law and Justice party. Then-Prime Minister and current president of the European Council Donald Tusk said that the affair was “the first attempt since 1989 to topple the government using illegal methods”.
Convicted by Polish authorities to over two years in prison in 2016, Marek Falenta had fled the country to avoid arrest. Polish authorities issued a European arrest warrant on April 1. According to local Spanish daily El Pais, Falenta attempted to avoid arrest and being taken into custody by threatening to jump from a balcony at a luxury ninth-floor apartment, where he was residing with his partner.