Main opposition party PD has asked the Prosecution Office to open an investigation into Danish architecture firm BIG, led by architect Bjarke Ingels, on account of three suspected crimes: passive corruption; assisting in illegal construction; unlawful influence of public officials.
It has also asked prosecutors to demand a court order to freeze the project implementation until a final court verdict is issued.
According to the PD, by publicly accepting the invitation of Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj and performing design work without any procurement procedure or agreement with the Albanian authorities, Bjarke Ingels accepted an “irregular offer.” According to PD’s General Secretary Gazment Bardhi,
Clearly Bjarke Ingels has been aware of the fact that we are dealing with an irregular offer, and has voluntarily accepted its realization.
The opposition has also informed the Danish Ministry of Justice about the lawsuit.
Bjarke Ingels has been involved in the project of Prime Minister Edi Rama to destroy the National Theater and grant private construction company Fusha shpk the public land through a Special Law. The first version of this law was found to be in violation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Commission, after which it was amended to include a quasi-public procurement procedure.
The Municipality of Tirana published the call for offers in August, with a deadline of September 19. The municipality has so far refused to publish a list of offers on its website, and no information is available concerning the actual progress of the procurement procedure.
Meanwhile, Bjarke Ingels continues to publicly list Fusha shpk as its client on their website, which suggests that Fusha is the expected winner of the procurement procedure. Prime Minister Edi Rama has publicly insisted that the National Theater will be destroyed and rebuilt according to Bjarke Ingels’s design, which also includes the construction of a complex of skyscrapers on largely public land by Fusha.
In the past, Bjarke Ingels claimed that it won the design of the new National Theater through a competition. No such competition was ever held.
Several officials form the Municipality of Tirana are currently under investigation after being invited by Fusha to stay in a luxury hotel in Barcelona in the period that the procurement procedure was drafted. Meanwhile, the Rama government continues its relentless repression of any public resistance against the plans to destroy the historic building of the National Theater.
Ingels has refused to answer any questions from Exit, referring to a non-disclosure agreement with the Municipality of Tirana, which is, however, not its officially listed client.