Basha Warns Banks against Loans for Companies Funded by Drug Money

Opposition leader Lulzim Basha warned the Albanian banks to be on high alert against giving loans to companies potentially involved in laundering drug money through private and public sector projects in collaboration with the government.

In a public letter to all banks which was sent yesterday, Basha wrote that drug cultivation and trafficking in Albania has created vast amounts of money that criminals need to launder. A part of the drug money has been funneled to pay corrupt politicians and high government officials in order to create schemes for money laundering mainly through the construction business (residential buildings and public works). As a result, according to Basha, the banking sector is exposed to a high risk when considering giving loans to such businesses.

Basha specifically mentioned two controversial road construction concession contracts as corrupt – Milot-Ballre Highway and Orikum-Dukat road.

President Meta vetoed both laws on these concession contracts and returned them to parliament. However, the Socialist majority voted against the President’s suggestions and approved the laws.

The construction of these two roads will reportedly need more than 95 million in bank loans – €70 million for the Milot-Balldre highway to be constructed by Gjikuria shpk, and 25.5 million for the Orikum-Dukat road to be constructed by ANK shpk.

“Both contracts pose an open danger to the public interest and they gravely harm the Albanian state’s financial interests by securing unfair profits to corrupt officials and private companies,” Basha wrote.

The Rama government’s concession contracts under public-private partnerships (PPP), and in particular those awarded over unsolicited proposals, have drawn criticism for being potentially corrupt not only from the opposition and the President but also from the World Bank, European Commission, IMF, EBRD and US State Department.