The United States Department of the Treasury has sanctioned former MP Aqif Rakipi and media owner Ylli Ndroqi for threatening “the stability of the region through corruption, criminal activity, and other destabilizing behavior.”
Rakipi was an MP from Elbasan for the Party for Justice, Integration and Unity (PDIU). He lost his mandate in 2018 for criminal activity.
The designation accuses Rakipi of being “involved in organized crime” and using his post “to nominate his cronies to key public positions in Elbasan and Tirana.”
Ylli Ndroqi, owner of the Yldon Media group, which includes the channel Ora News, RTV, and Channel 1, was also sanctioned by the US Treasury Department.
“Ndroqi has utilized media outlets formerly under his control to extort and blackmail Albanian citizens through demands for money and advertising purchases in exchange for withholding publication of negative media stories,” reads the press release.
“The people designated today constitute a serious threat to regional stability, institutional trust, and the aspirations of those seeking democratic and judicious governance in the Western Balkans,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said about the designations.
In addition to Rakipi and Ndroqi, the US sanctioned a number of politicians across the region, including former Prime Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Gruevski.
All individuals targeted by the sanctions will have their property in the US seized, will be prohibited from conducting business with US entities, and will not be able to enter the country.
Rakip and Ndroqi are the fifth and sixth Albanians designated by the US. Last May, the US banned former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, from entering the United States, following similar bans on former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla, former Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako, and former MP Tom Doshi.