In Albania, sources of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Organized Crime said on Thursday that the investigations against former Deputy Prime Minister Arben Ahmetaj have registered “surprising developments”, adding that it is about “new criminal facts and evidence”, but without offering other details. Mr. Ahmetaj has been declared an international wanted man, after he left the country, the day that the Special Prosecutor’s Office addressed the parliament with the request for authorization for his arrest.
The former deputy prime minister, whose name appeared during the investigations for the incinerators, is suspected of at least three criminal offenses from passive corruption to concealing or not declaring wealth, money laundering. The prosecutors have declared that they have discovered close ties between him and the two entrepreneurs who won the concessionary contracts for the construction of the incinerators, who also, according to them, were behind several financial transactions carried out by Mr. Ahmetaj. Some of his real estate and bank accounts have been seized.
Mr. Ahmetaj rejected the accusations against him, claiming that he was never involved in the procedures that gave life to the incinerator project. He has made it clear that he has no intention of returning to the country, “before the truth comes out”.
Investigations and for IPARD funds
The special prosecutor’s office, it is learned, has started preliminary investigations and into suspicions of abuses with the financing of projects in agriculture carried out within the framework of the European IPARD II Program for the support of agriculture and rural development. A year ago, this case passed to the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office. But apparently, some new developments related to this issue have led to the reopening of the file.
The issue became public after the discovery of the fact that Brussels had decided to temporarily stop reimbursements to the Albanian government “following an investigation into allegations of corruption related to the implementation of the program”, by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). It is about a financing of 71 million euros, of which 25 percent were financed by the Albanian government. Near the SPAK, a few weeks ago, Nisma Thurrje submitted a criminal report against the Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, which was previously headed by the former Minister of Agriculture Frida Krifca. The investigation by the EU was widely seen as one of the reasons why Mrs. Krifca was dismissed from office earlier this month as part of some changes that Prime Minister Rama made in his cabinet, without giving explanations.