IBNA Special Report/The director for the Treasury is also under investigation. Responsibility may fall on the officials of the Audit of the Bank of Albania, who couldn’t discover the theft that lasted four years. The event can be considered as the biggest theft in the 90 year history of the Bank of Albania
By Edison Kurani
Investigations are intensifying on the biggest financial scandal that has ever taken place at the Bank of Albania, since its foundation 90 years ago. If up until few days ago, the amount that was suspected to have been stolen was around 6 million USD, this amount has now reached the 20 million USD figure.
Sources from General Prosecution said today that the investigations over the theft of this amount will also include its current governor, Ardian Fullani. Fullani has not made any comments by saying that the issue is a state secret.
Investigations about the scandal of the heist of the State Treasury
Investigations will include senior officials of the Bank of Albania. General Prosecution has decided to summon for questioning the entire chain of command at the Bank of Albania, including governor Ardian Fullani. The prosecution says that besides the two arrested people, Ardian Bitraj and Mimoza Bruzi, responsibility also falls on at least three other members of the Treasury Audit sector. For four years in a row, this sector has not identified or denounced this theft. The prosecution is also looking to find out if the heads of this important institution, have complied with the law and the regulation of the Bank of Albania in the functioning of the central bank. The investigation aims at not only identifying potential responsible people, but also if there are actions or lack of actions in relation to this scandal.
Two theft schemes
Prosecution says that up until now, it has discovered two schemes of the theft of bank notes. The first one is that of the theft from the pallets of the imported Lek banknotes from Switzerland, which were opened and were stolen, while the money was replaced with books. The second one is that of the theft and throw into circulation of damaged bank notes, which were subject to destruction.
According to prosecution, no audit and no full inventory of the stock and intervention made on the Treasury have been made for four years.
Bank of Albania refuses to offer details
Official sources from the Bank of Albania confirm for IBNA that they have pressed charges against Ardian Bitraj and Mimoza Bruzi, employee at the Emission Department.
“These citizens are accused of the appropriation of monetary means for which they were responsible. The materials and all other proof against the suspects have been sent to the Prosecution of Tirana, which has registered this case and is intensively continuing the inquiries. In order to meet the legal obligation of preserving state secret and secret information relating to the inquiry, the information on the case has been classified”, was the reaction of the official of the Bank of Albania.
Bushati: Sensitive issues
Ervin Bushati, secretary for Economy at the Socialist Party, says that the scandal of the heist at the Bank of Albania requires independent investigation mechanisms by competent institutions and a direct oversight in order to build credibility in the market.
At the same time, Mr. Bushati calls for political parties to launch mature declarations on this issue: “Politicians must have a clearer state of mind and for as long as not all the information has been unveiled, there’s nothing that can be said. Credibility must be preserved and in the future, there must be efficient auditing mechanisms”, says Bushati.
He demanded for economists to be careful with their declarations, as according to him, this is a sensitive issue.
“Economists must be more reserved, because this is a sensitive issue which has not been fully investigated. Judging by what’s happened, there must be a restructuring and a careful reform in order for such events not to be repeated in such important institutions in the country”, said Bushati.
The discovery of the theft scheme was made last week by the internal audit of the Bank of Albania, which was verifying the procedure of the destruction of damaged bank notes. The prosecution has strong suspicions that the theft has not been made by the two suspects alone.
The prosecution has demanded from commercial banks the verification of the security numbers of the bank notes which have been subjected to the procedure of destruction by the Bank of Albania.
The request follows suspicions that a large part of the money that has been stolen has been thrown in circulation. There are also suspicions that a small part of the money has been spent in casinos, while the rest has been transferred abroad.
Two Bank of Albanian employees have been arrested and charged for the theft. One of the arrested people declared that he has spent 6 million USD in the casinos of Tirana. /ibna/