From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Tirana Prosecutors Drop Investigation into Municipality Employees Hotel Bill Scandal

The Tirana Prosecutor’s Office has suspended its criminal investigation into the allegations that the Municipality of Tirana officials had their five-star accommodation in the Spanish city of Barcelona paid for by businessman Shkelqim Fusha.

Last year the media published receipts that appeared to show that Fusha, owner of the government-favoured development and construction company Fusha shpk had paid EUR 1816 for a two-night stay for Deputy Mayor Arbjan Mazniku in the Alma Hotel. The luxury stay took place in June 2018 and it is alleged Fusha also footed the bill for other Municipality employees including Director of Town Planning Ditjon Baboci.

It is not known who paid for Mayor Erion Veliajs accommodation.

In September 2019, the Prosecutors said they were actively investigating the case including charges of passive corruption, corruption of public servants, and abuse of office. By December 2019, the Prosecutor’s office had asked the court to dismiss the case.

Questions sent to Prosecutor Alket Mersini by BIRN were not responded to and the Prosecutor’s Office just said the case had been dismissed, without giving any reason.

Fusha spk is the most popular construction company at the Municipality of Tirana and during  Veliaj’s tenure, they have been given over EUR 28.6 million in public funds. The company also ran uncontested and then won the EUR 11 million tender for the construction of Skanderbeg Square and are set to benefit from the demolition of the National Theatre.

If it goes ahead, the controversial National Theatre project will see the demolition of one of the cities most prominent cultural buildings and the public land it sits on will be sold to a private company. In its place, a number of towers consisting of luxury apartments and commercial units will be built, with a small, modern theatre added on the side.

When questioned by Voice of America as to why his company had paid for Municipality employees accommodation, Fusha claimed it was to save public funds.