The Democratic Party of Albania (PD) has filed a criminal complaint against Prime Minister Edi Rama and other senior officials with the Special Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office (SPAK), accusing them of having formed a “structured criminal group” for the funneling of millions in public money to a company that is building three waste incinerators.
Besides Rama, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj, Minister for Reconstruction Arben Ahmetaj, former Minister of Environment Lefter Koka, and entrepreneurs Klodian Zoto and Mirel Mërtiri are also accused by the opposition as partners in the alleged scheme.
Formal accusations filed on Monday include: forming a structured criminal group, abuse of office, violation of equality in public tenders.
The PD has requested SPAK to suspend the officials from exercising public duties.
The criminal report comes after the alleged affair came to public attention through a recent TV show on Euronews Albania.
In 2016, Exit News was the first to investigate who stood behind the shell company awarded the first concession contract to build an incinerator in Albania by the government through an unsolicited proposal.
Journalist Artan Rama expanded the investigation for Exit News in 2017, only to find out that all the three companies awarded concession contracts for three incinerators were owned by the same person, Klodian Zoto.
These public-private partnerships highly appraised by Prime Minister Edi Rama have since then been the focus of investigations by several media, including a recent damning report by BIRN journalists Aleksandra Bogdani and Besar Likmeta.
In October 2020, Euronews Albania brought the issue back to public attention, showing how the government has been paying €72 million since 2015 for the construction and operation of three incinerators, two of which have not yet been built, while the other is operating at half capacity.
Since the show broadcast, the opposition has been denouncing the affair nearly on a daily basis, before it decided to formally file a report against the officials and businessmen behind it with the special prosecution.