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Walesa Didn’t Pay Polish Taxes on $1 Million from Warner Bros.

November 16, 1995 GMT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ President Lech Walesa, fighting for re-election against an ex-Communist challenger, acknowledged Thursday for the first time that he did not pay Polish taxes on $1 million he received for the movie rights to his life.

``This is petty money,″ Walesa told a news conference. ``I have never been greedy. I have given so much for Poland.″

The president reminded journalists he had donated his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize award, just over $150,000, to the Solidarity trade union.

Walesa had been evading the tax question for several days after it emerged in the bitter runoff campaign against Aleksander Kwasniewski.

The challenger is under investigation by the Warsaw prosecutor’s office for filing an incomplete financial declaration. They say he failed to list his wife’s stock in a scandal-plagued insurance company.

Estimates of the amount of Polish taxes due on $1 million Walesa received in 1989 from Warner Bros. Studio range from 10 to 30 percent. But there is also a gray area in Polish law about whether foreign-earned income is taxable in Poland.

``In this particular case, I agreed that all would be handled by the film studio,″ Walesa answered to a journalist’s question about whether he had paid taxes on the money. ``There are witnesses who heard that.″

An aide, Marek Karpinski, read aloud a letter from a Warner Bros. official, Roman Hart, saying the studio had paid all taxes due in the United States. There was no reference to Polish taxes.

Warner Bros. never made a movie of Walesa’s life.

But the 52-year-old former leader of the Solidarity trade union says he and his family lived for the past six years on that money. Walesa had enough to build houses for himself and two of his eight children.

His living expenses are paid by the state and he repeatedly says he has not collected his $31,000 per year presidential salary during his five-year term. But aides have acknowledged the money goes into his bank account. Walesa has said he intends to spend it on an as yet unspecified ``social purpose.″

Walesa also has income from books he has co-written.