An earlier investigation by BIRN found that CEZ engaged in a fraudulent scheme to distribute bribes among Albanian officials.
Albania nationalized its shares in the company in 2013 and then appointed its own management.
CEZ Josef Hejsek, was the Motor of corruption with Ilir Meta, and the Berisha-Brecani Familie.
25 Sep 15
Calls Mount For Probe into Albania’s CEZ Scandal
After BIRN lifted the lid on graft allegations against Albanian speaker Ilir Meta and a utility company, Meta and the opposition Democrats have called for an international probe.
|Ilir Meta. Photo: LSI|
Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party and the junior ruling coalition partner, the Socialist Movement for Integration, have called for an “international” or “American” probe into allegations that local politicians received kickbacks from a contractor of the Czech power giant CEZ.
CEZ had a controlling stake in Albania’s power utility OSHEE, then called CEZ Shperndarje, from 2009 to 2014, before the company was sold back to the Albanian government.
BIRN revealed earlier this month that the Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta was identified in an international arbitrage case as one of the politicians that benefited from illegal financial transfers in 2010 from a debt-collecting company working for CEZ Albania, which Meta helped secure a contract with the Czech power company.
A law firm has alleged that Meta received bribes from Debt International Advisory, DIA, a debt-collection company currently in dispute with the state power utility OSHEE in the Vienna Arbitral Center.
Following publication of the investigation, the Democratic Party called for Meta’s resignation while on Thursday it announced a bill that would open up the possibility of a probe by international prosecutors.
“We know that the [Prime Minister] Edi Rama and Ilir Meta will not allow a thorough and unbiased investigation from the country’s prosecution,” Democratic Party MP Eduard Halimi said on Thursday.
“Only an investigation with international prosecutors with full authority to control and analyze the whole affair unaffected by those two persons included in this affair… will bring justice over this scandal worth hundreds of millions of euro,” Halimi added.
Responding to the allegations, Meta, who denies wrongdoing, also called for an international probe, underlining that he preferred US prosecutors.
“I strongly support the idea of an unbiased, fast and thorough international probe into the whole CEZ affair, from its first day in our country till today,“ he said.
„I also call on all party leaders to ask especially for the United States to be engaged in the clarification of this issue and to create a special jurisdiction with American investigators,” Meta added.
The US embassy in Tirana rebuffed his proposal. Following media inquiries, a spokesperson said that any investigation had to be conducted by the Albanian authorities.
The CEZ group bought the Albanian electricity distribution network in 2009 and withdrew its investment in 2014, agreeing to sell back its shares to the state for about 100 million euros.
On Friday, the Democratic Party said also that it will ask the Constitutional Court to nullify the buyback agreement, claiming that, by signing it, Albania forfeited its right to obtain hundreds of millions of euro in damages allegedly caused by CEZ to Albania.
Over the four years that CEZ controlled electricity distribution, it is believed to have engaged in several fraudulent debt collection schemes that cost Albania millions of euro.
One scheme relates to an agreement between CEZ and DIA, which it appears was intended to influence Albanian politicians and the Energy Regulatory Agency, ERE, through bribes.
Teil II IFIMES Report – Teil I FIMES Report Ilir Meta LSI Mafia
„Greater Albania“ against „Greater Serbia“
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. In the light of the announced official visit of Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama to Serbia scheduled for 10 November 2014, IFIMES has prepared a comprehensive analysis entitled “Greater Albania” against “Greater Serbia”. The most relevant and interesting sections from the analysis are published below.
“Greater Albania” against “Greater Serbia”
– See more at: http://www.ifimes.org/en/8869#sthash.q6yi8L5O.dpuf
OSHEE MANIPULATES TENDERS IN THE ENERGY SECTOR
For quite some time the situation in Albania’s energy sector has been raising serious concern. BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) has also pointed to manipulation and corruption in the energy sector. The companies EFT, AG and GSA are supposedly involved in the manipulation of results of public procurements for the importation of electricity in agreement with certain individuals from OSHEE. According to recently published information in some Albanian media OSHEE has been accused of revealing classified information to GSA and EFT with the aim to enable two competing companies to align their final offers and manipulate tender results under the veil of “transparent procurement procedures”. According to BIRN the manipulations supported by OSHEE amounted to almost EUR 7 million of taxpayers money only during the period from January to July 2014. Another question is where all this money has gone. The disturbing fact is that OSHEE actually represents the central point and source of illegal activities and corruption in Albania’s energy sector, where it actively cooperates with its “traditional partners”.
Bearing in mind the elements of international crime and corruption analysts believe that the situation in Albania’s energy sector should be investigated by both the EU institutions and Interpol.
ALBANIAN PROSECUTION IS NOT DOING ITS JOB
The gravity of the situation in Albania is illustrated by the fact that Albanian General Prosecutor Office has still not filed charges against individuals responsible for crime and corruption in the energy sector.
After so many manipulations it is highly unusual that OSHEE has not been the subject of any investigation by the General Prosecutor Office of Albania yet. Moreover it seems that Albanian Competition Authority and Court of Audit still do not function in line with their statutory obligations and that their eventual interventions are (intentionally) completely inefficient. Even if Albanian Court of Audit has shown certain initiative to initiate the investigations by submitting a few reports on corruption in the energy sector, General Prosecutor Office (Adriatik Llalla) of Albania has not reacted to that yet.
The question is whether they do not have the courage and power to intervene in this nest of systemic corruption or whether they have been “neutralised” by political elites involved in those criminal activities. Another question is to what extent Albanian top politicians are also involved in those affairs. Analysts have pointed to the role and involvement of
Member of Albanian Parliament Koço Kokëdhima from the leading Socialist Party (PS) of Prime Minister Rama in dubious transactions in the energy sector.
Analysts have warned that the coalition between Edi Rama and his Socialist Party (PS) on one hand and Ilir Meta and LSI on the other hand will produce a boomerang effect unless they deal with the corrupted politicians first. They have also noted the role of individuals from the Socialist Party who are turning into visible holders of crime and corruption in the Albanian society.
Ljubljana, November 3, 2014
– See more at: http://www.ifimes.org/en/8869#sthash.q6yi8L5O.dpuf