On October 30, after three months, well past any legally provided deadline, the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK) has announced its decision to reinstate Serious Crimes prosecutor Gentjan Osmani.
The announcement of Osmani’s confirmation is of special importance because the three KPK judicial body members, Firdes Shuli, Roland Ilia, and Pamela Qirko, did not take into account the International Monitoring Operation’s (ONM) recommendation to dismiss the prosecutor as a result of his inability to justify his wealth, specifically lacking legal income sources to justify the purchase of an apartment, paying off a loan, and purchasing a car.
Below, find an explanation of Osmani’s vetting process, as well as the KPK and ONM rulings.
The vetting process
Serious Crimes prosecutor Gentjan Osmani, also a candidate for a seat on the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP), was reconfirmed by KPK on August 2, 2018.
A week later, on August 9, ONM recommended the Public Commissioner appeal KPK’s ruling on Osmani at the Special Appeals Chamber and demand his dismissal on grounds of lack of justification for his wealth and its non-legal sources.
However, as long as the ruling was not published by KPK, Public Commissioners could not legally appeal it. Now, the Commissioners have 15 days to take the ONM recommendation into account and appeal Osmani’s reinstatement at the Special Appeals Chamber.
Despite ONM’s doubts, during the last 3 months, Osmani, at the same time deputy chief of the Serious Crimes Prosecution, has been working on several important cases, like the Babale-Xhafaj wiretaps, former minister Tahiri’s case, and that of Emiljano Shullazi’s gang.
ONM’s reservations and the KPK ruling on Osmani
The ONM doubts Prosecutor Osmani had legal sources in 2009 to buy a 72 m2 apartment for a value of € 67,800. According to Osmani’s declaration, he used his savings, a donation of 1.5 million Albanian Lek by his father-in-law, and a loan of €20,000 from a third person to buy the apartment.
The KPK ruling reveals that this loan was granted to Osmani, at a 5% interest rate, in 2009 by A.B.Q., his cousin, who has been living and working in Italy for the past 20 years. This loan was paid off via the following payments:
- €7,000 in 2011
- €5,000 in 2012
- €8,000 in 2013
Regarding the interest payments, the prosecutor told KPK that he paid those off subsequently during 2009-2013, out of his regularly declared income. According to Osmani, these payments were included in the family’s yearly expenses and no document attesting to their settlement was signed, as a result of the close family relationship between the parties.
ONM questions the legality of Osmani’s sources of income, because, in 2005, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 the prosecutor’s expenses (including his living expenses and his loan payments) exceeded his income.
Initially, based on his yearly declarations, KPK also flagged 2011, 2012, and 2013, as years during which the prosecutor’s income was insufficient to pay his loan, however Osmani claimed that, at the time, he minimized his expenses, even though he had just become a parent:
Until September 2011, I was living with my parents, my wife, who was on maternity leave, and my 20-month old child. My expenses were lower than those estimated. Until September 2011, we did not have to pay for utilities, or everyday expenses (food, household items), as they were shouldered by my parents.
In order to pay off his loan, the prosecutor claimed to have taken advantage of the exchange rate, exchanging lek to euro to make a profit:
The loan payments were made at the end of the year, In December, because I possessed the necessary assets to pay them, exchanging currencies at the most profitable exchange rate.
Regarding his in-laws’ financial ability to gift Osmani 1.5 million lekë, KPK claims that, from 2004 to 2008, the income of Osmani’s wife and that of her parents amounted to 4.2 lekë. During the same time period, his wife and her parents have spent only 1.75 million lekë. Simple math yields 400 lekë per day, per person. During these years, they have declared 550.000 lekë in savings. Therefore, based on income, expenses, and savings, KPK claims that Osmani’s wife and her parents could have been able to save another 1.9 million lekë, and gift 1.5 million of those to Osmani for his house.
Regarding the apartment payment installations, KPK claims that the prosecutor lacked the financial sources to make two payments in 2009, specifically, €15,000 on 31.01.2009 and €32,680 on 21.03.2009. Thus, in total, €47.680 (6.579.840 lekë) had been paid until 21.03.2009, even though the prosecutor did not have sufficient income sources or savings.
The ONM has also questioned Osmani’s financial ability for purchasing a car; his income/expense ratio doesn’t justify the amount used for the purchase.
Though Osmani purchased the car, valued at 450.000 lekë in 2005, he first mentioned it in his wealth declaration, only in 2009. The prosecutor, furthermore, does not have the purchase contract for this vehicle. KPK states:
Regarding the reasons for failing to declare this vehicle in 2005, the subject, in the 29.04.2018 questionnaire declared, among other things, that he thought he had declared it in 2005, however he only realized the contrary when declaring private interests in 2009, at a time when he file wealth declarations, alongside his wife, regarding separate assets. Furthermore, the reassessment subject states that the income sources for the purchase of this car constituted of his savings and financial rewards during the years from the School of Magistrates and his job as a prosecutor. With regards to the purchase agreement, he has lost it.
KPK initially came to the conclusion that Osmani did not have a sufficient income to justify the purchase of this car, however the prosecutor claimed that KPK had erred in his wealth and expense declarations during those years.
Compared to previous rulings, that dismissed judges and prosecutors at the slightest hint of irregularity when it came to their wealth declarations, Osmani’s reinstatement exposes the KPK’s double standards.