No Albanian Politicians Charged In Latest Garbage Incinerator Arrests – Release
The Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) has issued no arrest warrants for any politician or senior civil servant in its latest round of arrests related to concession contracts for waste incinerators. Elbasan and Fier. There is no news on possible investigations of the third incinerator located in Tirana.
In one Press statement On Tuesday, SPAK said it had charged 12 people with bribery over waste incineration contracts, including socialist MP Alqi Bllako who worked as general secretary in the environment ministry when Edi Rama’s government awarded the concession contract of the Fier incinerator to the private company “Integrated Fier for the Treatment of Technological Waste”.
SPAK has called on the Albanian parliament to strip the MP of his immunity and pave the way for his arrest.
Bllako is suspected of collaborating with then-environment minister Lefter Koka (who was arrested last year) and the head of the expropriation committee Pellomb Abeshi to falsify documents in order to increase 33% of the value of the land to be expropriated (111,000 square meters) and allocated to the private company for the construction of the Fier incinerator, resulting in a loss of €133,000 (ALL 16,288,344) for the budget of the State.
Prosecutors seized an apartment from Bllako, suspected of having received €120,000 as a bribe.
In addition, SPAK made arrests for abuse of power against six public administration officials who were members of the private company’s bid evaluation committee, as well as the administrator of the society.
The company is suspected of having reported manipulated expenses amounting to 1.2 million euros, which were allegedly paid to former Minister Koka as a bribe. SPAK seized assets of the same amount from Koka. The former minister faces similar charges for the embezzlement of 3.7 million euros under the Elbasan incinerator contract.
Prosecutors say that in addition to bribery, those arrested violated applicable laws and procedures to award concession contracts.
Four other local and central public administration officials were arrested for abuse of power in connection with the Elbasan incinerator.
In their reactions to today’s announcement of the arrest warrants, the opposition Democratic Party and the Socialist Integration Movement urged SPAK to join the three cases into one and investigate those ‘they consider the masterminds of a corruption case worth 430 million euros: Prime Minister Edi Rama, former ministers Arben Ahmeti and Damian Gjiknuri, Rama’s secretary general Engjell Agaci and the mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj.
The opposition argues that Rama and his subordinates colluded to carry out a major corruption case by awarding three waste incinerator concession contracts in Fier, Elbasan and Tirane to the same people behind different companies, in violation of key applicable laws.
Opposition MP Jorida Tabaku accuses the group of politicians of creating a “structured criminal group” to embezzle public money – a special stipulation of Albanian law for serious crimes. Last month, the four accused politicians – Rama, Ahmeti, Gjiknuri and Veliaj – vehemently denied the allegations of a “structured criminal group” in their testimony before the Tabaku-led parliamentary inquiry committee.
Rama and other ruling socialist politicians maintained that they had fully complied with all legal requirements throughout the process of awarding the three concession contracts, and that any possible abuse of power discovered by prosecutors should be treated as the personal liability of public administration officials and private company employees.
In their report, the committee’s opposition members claim to have provided evidence of violations of the law, abuse of power, corruption schemes, tax evasion schemes through a network of bogus companies and money laundering. They add that contracts for incinerators worth at least 430 million euros in public funds were awarded to the same people without competition, in violation of several laws, and in coordination with a number of ministries and departments. other agencies.
Exit News was the first media outlet to publish an in-depth analysis of the projects in 2017 by Artan Rama, sounding the alarm that a corruption scandal might lurk behind the case.
To date, the Elbasan incinerator is complete, but the plant is not operational and has been seized by SPAK. The Fier incinerator is still under construction, while works for the Tirana plant have not yet started.
In all three cases, the deadlines for carrying out the work are exceeded by several years. The government has paid the company more than €55 million for the Elbasan and Fier incinerators, and about €37 million for Tirana so far.
A network of dozens of other companies was created by the owners of the parent company, “Integrated Energy BV SPV”, to pay tens of millions for services that were never obtained.
The contracts estimate that at least 430 million euros of public money will have to be paid to private companies owned by the same people until 2047.