The “Operation Force of Law” (OFL) has reached the end of its one year mandate during which it managed to confiscate just 11 assets.
As of 1 January, the OFL will no longer work to ascertain the source of funds or income from individuals with criminal convictions. The normative act which created the OFL has not been extended.
During the 12 months which it was operational, OFL identified 1550 assets belonging to 589 individuals who have filled out the declaration document as required. SPAK then requested that 45 of these assets be confiscated, and 11 actually were.
This is a confiscation rate of 0.71%.
Issues that have been sent to SPAK by OFL will continue to be reviewed this year. So far, some 120 cases have been submitted along with 56 requests for confiscation which are now under consideration.
The court removed the request for seizure for nine assets as verifications have shown that they were created legally and not from income derived from criminal activity.
Earlier this year, SPAK returned the armoured car, business licenses and stock ownership to convicted murderer Lulzim Berisha. His assets were seized in February 2020 but the court claimed they were acquired via legal means. Berisha is the former member of a notorious criminal gang in Durres who was sentenced to life in prison for forming a structured criminal group, drug trafficking, money laundering, and five counts of murder.
He was released from prison in 2016 as the court said they thought he had “corrected” his behavior. He was given a work contract by former Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako whose voice also appears on the Albanian election gate scandal wiretaps.
Then in September, SPAK returned 60% of seized assets to the “Balkan Escobar” Klement Balili. This included property, land and commercial premises. He. was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking, participation in a structured criminal group, money laundering, and failure to declare assets while working for the government.
Albania has been criticised by various international bodies for failing to seize assets of those involved in crime. In the most recent GRETA report regarding human trafficking, it was noted that while there are huge profits in trafficking, Albanian authorities do not freeze or confiscate the assets of those involved.