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Fugitive whisky baron kept in jail over murder bid and drug charges | UK | News

Fugitive whisky baron kept in jail over murder bid and drug charges | UK | News

Lucasz Ratajewski, 47, fled Poland 20 years ago after being handed a three-year jail term for possession of a handgun.

He lived a high-flying double life as Dariusz Plazewski, boss of Bimber Distillery, one of London’s first producers of English single malt whisky for over 100 years.

He launched this with his partner Ewelina Chruszczyk in 2016 and released a single malt in 2019.

He previously worked in property development and construction after settling in London in 2004.

But his past returned to haunt him in January when he was arrested after Polish prosecutors requested his extradition to stand trial for conspiracy to attempt murder and supplying drugs and to serve out the three-year firearms sentence from 2003.

He failed in a bid to be released on bail in February due to the “risk of flight” he posed. Now he has had a second attempt turned down by Mr Justice Fordham at the High Court, despite having previously offered £200,000 as security. Ratajewski was told it was due to the “very real prospect” he would repeat his disappearing act, “obtain a false ­identity document and build a new beginning from scratch in a completely new country.”

The court heard Polish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Ratajewski 20 years ago, but he slipped away under his pseudonym.

He built up his UK whisky business using his knowledge of moonshine production gleaned from his father and grandfather. Bimber recently put into effect plans for a second distillery – Dunphail – in Speyside, Scotland, and employs 40 staff.

After his arrest Ratajewski admitted living under a false identity since arriving in the UK aged 26 but denies the charges against him.

A full extradition hearing is scheduled for September in Westminster.

A statement on Bimber’s website after the initial failed bail application said: “Dariusz Plazewski has relinquished all responsibilities for both Bimber and Dunphail Distilleries.” It added Ms Chruszczyk and director of whisky creation Matt McKay will now lead the activities of both distilleries.

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