The disinformation methods normally associated with the Russian autocracy have taken root in Poland, which is a rather worrying development.
But, since the general global media landscape has been in the post-truth phase since at least 2016, is it really that surprising? Shouldn’t we expect this stuff to surface more often?
The reason I decided to OSINT this company is because I think there aren’t many information sources available in the English language that cover this case.
If you don’t speak Polish, it is hard to use Google translate while sifting through official records. So this might make things somewhat easier, I hope.
Cat@Net was officially registered on 02.11.2015, so exactly 4 years ago. The initial name for the company was Dispro.pl.
The company’s headquarters was recorded as ul. Oświęcimska 54, 41-400 Mysłowice in Poland. This location still formally remains Cat@Net’s base of operations.
Company registration number (REGON): 362875904
Tax identifier number (NIP): 2220899995
National judicial register number (KRS): 0000584072
The chairman of their “board of directors” was Wojciech Józef Brzozowski who held 100% of the company shares. He was listed as the sole creator of the business, whose starting capital officially amounted to the meagre 5000 PLN (approximately 1200 euro, give or take).
The “board of directors” was really just one person and this management model is still the official one for the company.
One thing is certain, the location does not look like your typical office housing a PR company… In fact, it doesn’t look like anything.
Google Street View options are limited, but the buildings in the close proximity look like this…
This address was provided upon registration, but we know the company also has offices in Wroclaw and in Warsaw, the latter supposedly being used only for political liaison and consultations.
The Wroclaw office is located in the city suburbs, in an old, bleak looking edifice that dates back to the days of communist Poland.
The address is ul. Ostrowskiego 30/335, 53-238 Wrocław.
Interestingly, this location was raided by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) in January 2019 – but obviously it did not impact the Cat@Net operations all that much.
The public prosecutor’s office indicated they would not comment on the on-going investigation, so full details about what exactly happened are not known yet.
The Polish media speculate the case is related to alleged corruption in the arms industry.
The Cat@Net company website has been wiped clean since the Newsweek story broke, but we know full well that what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet.
Both the cached and archived versions of the website were still available.
The Wayback Machine alone contains 3 archived captures of the website:
Some interesting information could still be gleaned:
The translation of the “Who are we?” text above reads as follows:
“We place the Customer’s interests number one. We take an example of the fairy-tale Cat in Boots, who devoted all his intellect and energy to achieve his set goal. This was the first master, as well as one of the PR pioneers.”
At least now we know where the company name derives from…
The website itself, unusually for an entity that prides itself on providing “patriotic” PR services / nationalist propaganda is hosted on a server in Germany.
The company also owns the catatnet.com domain which runs on WordPress and strangely enough has not been taken down yet.
The prominent statement offering a discount of up to 50% due to the fact that Cat@Net employs disabled staff is still visible on the website.
During my OSINT efforts I discovered that a lot of the publicly accessible information regarding Cat@Net is outdated.
For instance, on the 9th July 2018 Grzegorz Przemysław Demel stepped in as the company’s chairman of the board of directors, meaning that he assumed full responsibility for the company.
Cat@Net currently has a total number of 200 shares, divided between 3 entities in the following way:
- Wojciech Józef Brzozowski – 50 shares, 2.500 PLN
- Adam Zdzisław Wojtasiewicz – 99 shares, 4.950 PLN
- FACILITY MANAGEMENT EXPERTS “FAME” (a company) – 51 shares, 2.550 PLN
The more detailed connections between these entities and other ones are mapped below:
In the aftermath of the Newsweek story Cat@Net adopted the “business as usual” attitude.
The social media accounts linked with the company are still operating, no doubt because Cat@Net has to fulfil its contractual obligations and simply can’t afford to abandon their customers.
What I found personally intriguing was the fact that even though there is rife speculation regarding the funding received by Cat@Net from the state coffers by the Polish right wing populist government, the company also provided services for left wing politicians. And helped to elect at least one of them into the Parliament.
To me this is the true essence of cynicism and populism that feeds into the dystopian media landscape we currently have – doesn’t matter what you say, what you believe, what is true and what is false; as long as we keep the masses in fear and continue to make money…