Prosecutors File Criminal Charges Against Albanian Opposition Leader

Prosecutors will file criminal charges against opposition leader Lulzim Basha after they found “elements” of falsification of documents and money laundering, in connection with his Democratic Party lobbying (read here and here) in the US ahead of the 2017 general elections.

Today, prosecutors Ervin Karanxha, Kolë Hysenaj, and Gjergji Tako of the Tirana Prosecution Office notified Lulzim Basha of his obligation to appear before them on June 17, to be presented with the criminal charges against him and questioned in the capacity of defendant.

PD’s former Secretary General Arben Ristani and financial manager Ilir Dervishi will also face criminal charges.

Prosecution charges against Basha come amidst a deepened political crisis in Albania, and nearly one and a half years after US magazine Mother Jones alleged that an offshore company controlled by Russians had sponsored the PD lobbying in US in order to destabilize Albania and the Balkans.

In the letter sent to Basha, prosecutors stated that investigations had led them to the conclusion that the three PD officials has committed criminal offences falling under articles 190/3 and 287/ç of the Criminal Code of Albania, which deal with falsification of documents and money laundering.

Article 190/3 “Falsification of seals, stamps or forms” stipulates that:

When the falsification is done by a person who has the duty of compiling them, it is punishable with imprisonment of from three to seven years.

Article 287/ç “Laundering the proceeds of criminal offence or criminal activity” states that:

Conducting financial operations or fragmented transactions to avoid reporting, according to the legislation on the prevention of money laundering, […] shall be punished by imprisonment of five to ten years.