From: Exit Staff
Suspects in ‘Toyota Yaris’ Case Charged Only for Not Declaring €3.4M at Customs

The six suspects in the “Toyota Yaris” case will be charged only for not declaring at customs the €3.4 million found in their cars by police, according to TCH.

The “Toyota Yaris” case involves €3.4 million seized in the Port of Durrës in two cars in June 2018. The vehicles were found within a trailer on a ferry arriving from Italy to Durrës, alongside 8 more cars being transported and owned by an Albanian transport company. The vehicles had followed the Belgium–Germany–Italy–Albania route.

Few days before the police operation prompted by the Italian branch of Interpol, opposition leader Lulzim Basha warned from parliament that a large amount of money belonging to a drug trafficking gang in Elbasan was being transported from Germany to Albania.  Basha stated that the head of Socialist Party parliamentary group Taulant Balla had arranged for its safe delivery to the criminal group. Balla denied any involvement.

The case was initially investigated by the Serious Crimes Prosecution, but it was later downgraded to first instance prosecution after prosecutors found no evidence of a criminal group or money laundering attempt. 

In January 2020, Judge Lazer Sallaku of the Court of Tirana released all suspects from detention.

They will now be charged for not declaring the sum at the Albanian customs. Judge Artan Gjermeni will resume the case in September.

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SPAK) will reportedly investigate whether the money comes from illegal sources, and decide whether they will seize.