Catching the Big Fish: Low-Grade Officials at the MoI responsible for 28 Million USD Scandal.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 15, 2021 13:35

Catching the Big Fish: Low-Grade Officials at the MoI responsible for 28 Million USD  Scandal.

In Albania, the battle against corruption starts and ends at the bottom. 9 Government Officials were indicted last Friday by the Special Prosecution Services for rigging tender procedures related to the purchase of police uniforms. It is estimated that a single uniform cost the ministry of interior close to 3000 USD.

The former minister in charge of the MOI claims to have no knowledge of the events, even though he was publicly accused by a Member of Parliament of rigging the tender procedures. The former general secretary of the MOI also claims to have no knowledge of the events, although he made sure to sue the Democratic Party for libel when it publicly accused him in 2020 for allowing this tender procedure to take place. It is unclear if anyone has even asked the Prime-Minister whether he was aware of the fact that 28 Million USD were taken from the state budget and used to purchase overpriced, low-quality police uniforms. What does he have to do with this, after all?

In the Nordic countries, where levels of corruption in government are negligible, one could have expected the public to genuinely believe that this scandal was in fact an isolated affair, perpetrated by a small group of underpaid and perhaps resentful officials, who suddenly decided to essentially steal 28 Million Dollars from the state budget, and who seriously thought they could get away with it.

If Albania were part of the Nordic countries, the explanation given by the government regarding its own lack of responsibility for this event would have been plausible. The government would have most certainly resigned, but the people would have believed them.

Far from being part of the Nordic Countries, Albania constantly ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, and given that the Socialist Party has ruled the country for almost a decade, it would not be a stretch to say that the Albanian Government is one of the most corrupt governments in Europe. A few years ago, a former Minister of the Interior was tried under international drug trafficking charges. Just last week, his former bodyguards were arrested under the same charges due to their involvement in an international drug smuggling ring consisting of high ranking police officers and other government officials.

These officials were part of the same government which paid a shell corporation that had deposited falsified documentation to the Albanian authorities 40 million Euros for the construction of a two-kilometer road in the center of Tirana a few years earlier. And again, the government which professes not to interfere in public tendering procedures is the same one which was forced by an International Arbitration Court to pay 100 Million Euros to an Italian Investor for using governments agencies to illegally seize his assets.

Corruption scandals are ever-present in Albanian politics, so much so that the public has become desensitized. A scandal of this nature would require an overhaul of the governance structure in the Ministry of Interior at the least, but nobody has sought to organize such protests, and it is very likely that this scandal will blow over in a few days. Although the Albanian public is rather apathetic when it comes to matters of government corruption, such apathy should never be confused with naiveté, for nobody in Albania believes that corruption starts and ends at the bottom. 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 15, 2021 13:35