For nearly three years, a company with ties to former Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Damian Gjiknuri and its former Secretary-General Koli Bele has covertly and without competition acquired the exclusive rights to a monopoly for mandatory inspections for LPG cylinders. In practical terms, this is a concession contract granted by minister’s order.
The then Minister Gjiknuri appears to have had already designated the private company that would carry out inspection services, when in March 2016 a government decision determined the technical specs for LPG cylinders.
On April 8, 2016, just one week after the government decision, Gjiknuri authorized a company, “El-Bu 2009″, to carry out the inspection of all LPG cylinders in the Albanian market, without competition. The company has since then changed the name to “Swiss Approval”.
At the time, El-Bu 2009 was the only company approved by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy to provide the said service. As per Minister Gjiknuri’s order, all LPG operators must first undergo an inspection by “El-Bu 2009” to verify the condition of cylinders already in use and to get an approval for new cylinders to be introduced in the market.
Established in 2009, when “El-Bu 20019” was provided with the right to offer a monopoly service in 2016, it was owned by Gentian Filaj (47.5%), Realdo Mansaku (26.6%), Henri Alexis (20.9%) and Ahmet Burak Goktepe (5%).
The main shareholder, Gentian Filaj, a close acquaintance of Mr Bele, has benefitted from a number of public works contracts provided by the Ministry of Energy when it was run by Minister Damian Gjiknuri and Secretary-General Koli Bele.
The two leading shareholders of Swiss Approval, Gentian Filaj and Realdo Mansaku, are also co-owners of the Albania Mining Consulting company, which also operates certification of pressure vessels.
Filaj and Mansaku are also co-owners of another company, SSA-Albania, which among other things, produces pressure pipes and vessels.
A version of this article was published by BoldNews in Albanian. Translation in English by Exit News.