Leaked OSCE Document Names ‘Corrupt’ Albanian MPs

The OSCE said on Saturday that the report alleging wrongdoing by 36 Albanian MPs, prepared in October 2014 and leaked last week to the Lapsi.al website, “contained information circulating in the country and was not the official view of the organisation”.

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The report claimed that the MPs, including Prime Minister Edi Rama, the speaker of parliament Ilir Meta and the former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, had accumulated hundreds of millions of euros through corrupt practices.
According to the report, Rama has an estimated wealth of 200 million euros hidden in offshore accounts, money allegedly accumulated through bribes in exchange for construction permits between 2000 and 2011, when he was mayor of Tirana.
The former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, currently an opposition MP, is described in the report as someone who used his power to enrich his family. The report quotes BIRN investigations about his daughter’s businesses.
The speaker of parliament and Rama’s junior coalition partner, Ilir Meta, is described as being suspected of having mafia links and of ordering at least two murders.
The OSCE Head of Mission in Tirana, Florian Raunig, confirmed the authenticity of the report but stressed that it was only for internal use.
He said it was not intended to be seen as proven fact, but “simply a collection of information obtained by Albanian media and allegations that circulate in public”.
“I wish to express my regret that this information has become public – without authorisation – and subject to misinterpretation and political manipulation,” Raunig said in a press statement.
“The information made public doesn’t represent OSCE policy or our official views and it is not an evaluation or a judgement and has not served as the basis for other reports,” he added.
The perception that leading politicians are involved in corruption or have mafia links is widespread in Albania. However, no high-level public official had been been convicted so far.
The current head of the opposition, Lulzim Basha, was put under investigation by the prosecution in 2007 for alleged abuse of power, which allegedly cost the state about 230 million euros.
In April 2009, the Albanian supreme court closed the case against Basha, arguing that the prosecutors had exceeded the investigation’s time limits under the statute of limitations.
The current speaker of parliament Ilir Meta was charged in 2011 but was acquitted by the high court a year later.
Prime Minister Edi Rama had never been charged or put under investigation.
Berisha had his daughter Argita Malltezi put under investigation for money laundering in 2008 but this investigation was later closed.

Balkan Insight
15 September 2015