15 Mar 2011

Corruption Caught on Tape Sets Albania on Fire Once More

Source: BalkanInsight.com, cited from Albania Video Corruption Scandal Takes Hollywood Twist, published February 15, 2011

A video released to the local media by former economy minister Dritan Prifit allegedly shows former deputy minister Ilir Meta discussing corrupt deals. Albanian prosecutors have now announced that IT experts found another video on Prifti’s computer, which he voluntarily turned over in which Prifti is shown dividing a €70,000 sum of money with deputy minister of economy Leonard Beqiraj”. Based on the new evidence, the general prosecutor requested the Parliament to strip Meta and Prifit of their immunity from prosecution.

The first videotape, the authenticity of which has been verified by a US expert and was earlier published by the investigative program Fiks Fare on Top- Channel Tv, allegedly shows Meta asking Prifti to intervene over a hydropower plant concession tender, naming an alleged recompense by a businessman of a seven per cent stake and €700,000 bribe.

Meta also allegedly asks Prifti to hire activists of their party, the LSI. The party is the junior government partner in the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and controls the ministries of economy, foreign affairs and health.

Meta, who is the LSI head and at the time of the recording served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, also allegedly brags in the videotape about influencing a Supreme Court trial over the same hydro-power plant concession,.

Following the publication of the video, Meta resigned as deputy prime minister and minister of economy.

The videotape was shot by Prifti himself while he was minister of economy, before Meta took over the post. Prifti distributed it to local media and accused Meta of corruption, after being replaced by the LSI head in September 2010. Prifti has praised prosecutors several times for their investigation into the allegations, and vowed that the tapes are authentic.