November 16, 2018 / 1:46 PM / a month ago

Polish state banks fall on uncertainty over Getin Noble

WARSAW, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday moved to reassure markets that the country’s banking sector was strong following steep falls in bank shares after the financial regulator quit earlier this week amid corruption allegations.

By 1304 GMT shares in PKO BP were 6.6 percent lower, while shares in Bank Pekao and Alior Bank were both down by around 7 percent.

“Stress tests show... the banking sector situation is very good,” Morawiecki told reporters on Friday.

The head of the financial regulation authority, Marek Chrzanowski, stepped down on Tuesday following newspaper reports he had sought a multi-million dollar bribe from the owner of Getin Noble Bank, Leszek Czarnecki.

“Investors are increasingly worried. They are afraid of what could happen over the weekend with Leszek Czarnecki’s banks as an effect of this week’s events,” said Lukasz Janczak, an analyst with brokerage Ipopema.

Chrzanowski has denied any allegations of wrongdoing, the PAP news agency reported, but the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which nominated him to the post, said that it would launch a wide-ranging investigation.

Chrzanowski has not replied to requests for comment from Reuters.

Shares in Getin, country’s ninth largest lender, were down for a third day in a row, losing 17.5 percent and taking their year-to-date losses to more than 75 percent.

Shares in another bank owned by Czarnecki - Idea Bank - lost 16 percent, while shares in another of his financial companies, Open Finance, shed 7 percent.

“It’s foreign investors who are responsible for the falls,” said Maciej Marcinowski, an analyst with brokerage firm Trigon.

Poland’s central bank governor Adam Glapinski said on Friday he is not going to resign, commenting on a report in tabloid newspaper Fakt that top politicians were discussing his future.

Glapinski said that the central bank is monitoring the situation on the interbank market, and stressed that it is stable. The KNF’s acting head confirmed that the situation is stable and that the regulator is ready to act if needed.

The scandal is a blow for the PiS party, which took over power in Poland in 2015 partially on a pledge to fight corruption. PiS politicians maintain the party line that the prime minister reacted swiftly, as needed. (Reporting by Alicja Ptak, Anna Koper, Marcin Goclowski, and Wojciech Zurawski; editing by Louise Heavens)

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