From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Klodian Zoto’s Integrated Energy BV Threatens to Sue Zimbabwean Newspaper for US$ 500M

On June 7, the Zimbabwean newspaper The Zimbabwe Independent published an article denouncing a €120 million scandal involving a tender with the Dutch company Integrated Energy B.V. Integrated Energy would have won a tender for waste incinerator from the City Council of the capital Harare, without following the legal tender procedures. As we explained, these tactics closely mimic the way in which Integrated Energy, directed by the Albanian businessman Klodian Zoto, received a €140 million tender for a waste incinerator in Tirana.

As a result, a lawfirm in Harare claiming to represent Integrated Energy BV, Samukange Hungwe Attorneys, has sent a letter to the Zimbabwe Independent demanding a full rectification, threatening with a lawsuit of US $500 million.

In the cease-and-desist letter, E.R. Samukange claims that:

Mr Zoto is not in any way, connected to Integrated Energy BV and he is not of Dutch nationality.

This is a rather remarkable statement for two reasons. If indeed Klodian Zoto is not connected to Integrated Energy BV, how can they possibly know he is not of Dutch nationality? Moreover, Exit has in the past published records from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, clearly showing Zoto as one of the directors of Integrated Energy BV. These records thus contradict the claims of Integrated Energy BV’s lawfirm: Zoto has been connected as Director to Integrated Energy BV, at least as a director in the period in which the Albanian tenders were received.

According to research of the Voice of America, Zoto left as director of Integrated Energy BV in March 2018, and was replaced by the shell company Almares Management BV, of which the shareholders and final beneficiaries are unknown. This suggests that Zoto wanted to remove any paper trail including his name. Such Dutch shell companies are often used by Albanian companies for dubious government concessions to hide conflict of interest and avoid taxation. Zoto is however still registered as administrator of sister company Integrated Energy Solutions in Albania.

The cease-and-desist letter further claims that the information published by the Zimbabwe Indepedent about Integrated Energy’s activities in Albania, including receiving a tender for a waste incinerator in Tirana, presents an “obtuse abuse of journalist privilege.” In fact, Andrew Kunambura and his colleague Chipa Gonditi merely provided a summary of well-known facts previously published by Exit in 2016 and 2017.

In May 2016, before the Integrated Energy BV was officially registered in the Netherlands, it sent an unrequested offer to the Albanian government to manage a €140 million, 30-year concession for a waste incinerator in Tirana. As per usual, the government awarded the company a 8% in the subsequent tender procedure, which it won, as expected. Moreover, the government failed to follow any form of public consultation, despite its legal obligations and the fact that waste incinerators are widely opposed in Albanian society.

Two of the board members of Integrated Energy BV, Theo Spijkerman and Arnaud van der Werf, both work at SGG Group, which was investigated in 2014 by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office for £23 million fraud in Cambodia. SGG Group was eventually convicted.

The tender for the waste incinerator is not the only one connected to Klodian Zoto in Albania. Journalist Artan Rama discovered that a complex of companies, including Integrated Energy BV and Integrated Technology Solutions, are linked to waste incinerator projects in Elbasan and Fier, all of which have been marred by dubious tender procedures and protests by local inhabitants.

The Municipality of Tirana already started to pay millions of euros to Integrated Energy, even before any incinerator has been built. In 2018, Municipality of Tirana paid the company €8 million on the basis of the concession contract, without receiving any services.

Exit has reached out to Samukange Hungwe Attorneys for a comment, but did not receive a response before this article was published.