The High State Audit has pressed criminal charges against the Bank of Albania for abuse with duty in the purchase and sale of banknotes taken out of circulation
Tirana, 5 September 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
The High State Audit has filed criminal charges against the Bank of Albania for abuse with duty. The charges are based on what HAS considers to be an illegitimate way of how the Bank of Albania has taken damaged banknotes out of circulation from 2010 until 2014.
According to SAA, commercial banks have purchased the banknotes from the citizens at 80% of their value, while the Bank of Albania has purchased them to the banks at 100% of their value.
According to HAS, the 20% difference has been unlawfully benefited by banks. This profit amounts to four million euros.
The Bank of Albania claims that it “has addressed the cited report of the Supreme State Audit through official communications between the two institutions”.
Official sources “commercial banks have improperly benefited from the handling of damaged and unfit banknotes”.
The Bank of Albania says that it administers the unfit banknotes for circulation in compliance with well-defined rules, recently approximated to European Central Bank standards.
“The rules that govern the exchange of damaged banknotes are broadly in line with those applied for euro banknotes, in accordance with the Decision of the European Central Bank of 19 April 2013 (ECB/2013/10). European experts have assessed that the processes and regimes implemented by the Bank of Albania on the denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange, handling of damaged and unfit banknotes and their withdrawal are conform to the European ones”, says the official statement.
According to BoA, “the practice of handling the unfit banknotes for circulation, which is also verified by on-site inspections carried out at commercial banks, evidences that there has been no fact or case supporting the recent comments made in the media”.
The Bank of Albania says that it has performed all the necessary relevant verifications set out in the Regulation “On the transparency for banking and financial products and services”, through inspections at commercial banks.
“The examination did not reveal any commission held by the banks to evidence that a 20% penalty had been withheld for the damaged banknotes. In addition, no complaint has been lodged by any client of the banks inspected by the Bank of Albania in this regard. The processing procedure is thoroughly documented”, BoA declares.
Based on the above analysis, the Bank of Albania is confident that neither the state budget nor the bank clients have incurred any damage from the exchange of damaged banknote at commercial banks.
In spite of BoA’s clarifications, the Prosecution has accepted the criminal charges for abuse with duty. A probe will verify the actions led by heads of the Bank of Albania during that period.
Among them, the former Governor of the Bank of Albania, Adrian Fullani, who a little while ago, was acquitted following a trial in the theft of 713 million ALL from the treasury of BoA. This was considered as one of the biggest heists in its 100 year history. The theft was discovered in mid 2014 and several BoA workers are suffering prison sentences for it. They have also denied the charges. The only one who has pleaded guilty is Ardian Bitraj, treasury official, who is suffering a 13 prison sentence. /balkaneu.com/