Shkëlqim Fusha, the owner of Fusha shpk, paid €1,816 for a 2-night stay in Barcelona, Spain, for Tirana Deputy Mayor Arbjan Mazniku.
A Credit Card Authorization form, dated June 21, 2018 shows Mazniku being authorized by Fusha to use his credit card at the Alma Hotel in Barcelona.
The Municipality of Tirana admitted the payment made by Fusha. Answering to a request for information by the Voice of America, the municipality stated that Mazniku and representatives of Fusha shpk had traveled to Barcelona to receive an award for the Skenderbeg Square (constructed by Fusha shpk for €17 million), awarded to both the Municipality of Tirana and Fusha shpk. The costs were covered by the private company in order to save taxpayers’ money, according to the municipality’s statement.
The publication of the bill in the Albanian media comes a few weeks before the “independent” commission evaluating the tender proposals for the private development of the National Theater and the public land around it will present its findings.
The Socialist government first pushed for a special law awarding the National Theater public land to Fusha shpk to build six private towers and a new theater. The law approved in parliament was met with criticism and protests, and the European Commission requested the government to amend it, in order to ensure fair competition.
The government then reviewed the law and the Socialist majority passed it in Parliament again. The law is still widely deemed as unconstitutional and tailored for usual government contractors. The President refused to sign it, and asked the currently dysfunctional Constitutional Court to adjudicate on its constitutionality.
Prime Minister Rama stated he wouldn’t wait for a Constitutional Court verdict before demolishing the theater. He also falsely claimed that the law was “reviewed and cleared” by the European Commission.
A regular daily protest against the demolition of the National Theater has been ongoing for nearly one and a half years in the capital.
Few weeks ago the government launched a call for bids for the demolition of the National Theater and development of the area with private business and residential towers, including a new theater.
Prime Minister Rama, Mayor Erion Veliaj, and Fusha shpk have been pushing for the destruction of the National Theater, as it will free up a large amount of public property for the construction of skyscrapers.
The special law and the call for bids are widely considered to be tailored for Fusha shpk, which is expected to be the bid winner – either as single bidder or in a joint venture.
Fusha has received at least €43 million in contracts by municipalities during the 2015–2018 period, according to Open Data.
The opposition Democratic Party has argued that 145 contracts received by Fusha (2014 – 2019) amount to a total of €101 million, including contracts awarded by the central government.
The payment by Shkëlqim Fusha violates laws on conflict of interest and allowed amounts for gifts to public officials.