The Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) in Tirana has decided to seize the incineration plant located in the Albanian capital.
Through an official media statement, SPAK established that after thorough investigations, citizens Klodian Zoto and Mirel Mërtiri are the “de facto” owners of the company “Integrated Energy BV.SPV”, which won the concession contract for the construction of the Tirana incinerator and landfill. Zoto and Mërtiri are also the “de facto” owners of its parent company, established in the Netherlands, “Integrated Energy BV”, later changed to “Geogenix BV”.
According to SPAK, Zoto and Mërtiri have used other individuals and companies to conceal their true ownership of the concession company “Integrated Energy BV.SPV”. The anticipated investment of the entire project is 128,248,330 euros (devoid of taxes).
Through investigations, SPAK claims that Klodian Zoto and Mirel Mërtiri are the individuals who have directed and made decisions regarding the concession company “Integrated Energy BV.SPV” and its parent company in the Netherlands, from the moment of their establishment and onwards.
From the evidence collected up to this stage of the investigation, SPAK continues, it is evident that Klodian Zoto, in collaboration with Mirel Mërtiri, has benefited from falsely invoiced tax amounts, totaling 409,428,000 Albanian lek, where Zoto presented and declared forged invoices for work allegedly carried out through another company of his, “Integrated Energy Services”, as a subcontractor of the concession company “Integrated Energy BV.SPV”. At the time of issuing these forged invoices, it is proven that the “de facto” shareholders were Klodian Zoto and Mirel Mërtiri.
Similarly, it has been revealed that Klodian Zoto and Mirel Mërtiri indirectly own the company “F.M.O.”. Evidence has been gathered that these individuals, utilizing illegal gains, have purchased, on behalf of “F.M.O.”, an immovable property, with an area of 611 square meters, valued at 1,000,000 euros, located in the city of Durrës.
Opposition deputies were quick to welcome SPAK’s decision to sequestrate the Tirana incinerator.
The reelected leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha said: “I welcome SPAK’s determination to conduct a thorough investigation into the century’s scandal, which cost Albanian taxpayers over 430 million euros. The seizure of the fictitious incinerator in Tirana is a crucial step towards uncovering this massive corrupt affair. I fully support and encourage the judiciary institutions to act without hesitation against corruption at the highest levels, this gangrene that destroys jobs and the well-being of Albanians. Albanian citizens expect and deserve justice; they know well that the fish rots from the head!”
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Democratic Party, Gazment Bardhi said: “The seizure of the Tirana incinerator is just the first, but necessary step on the path to deliver justice for Edi Rama’s and Erion Veliaj’s corrupt affair. The money stolen from the citizens must be returned to the state budget. Those responsible for this affair must face justice. SPAK is on the right track to make the accountability of every corrupt high official a reality. No one is above the law, closer than ever.”
1/2. Sekuestrimi i inceneratorit të Tiranës është vetëm hapi i parë, por i domosdoshëm, i rrugës për të bërë drejtësi për aferën korruptive të Edi Ramës dhe Erjon Veliajt. Paratë e vjedhura qytetarëve duhet të kthehen në buxhetin e shtetit.
— Gazment Bardhi (@GazmentBardhi) August 1, 2023
Meanwhile, Freedom Party deputy Monika Kryemadhi had this to say: “SPAK finally took action against the Tirana incinerator, which I reported two years ago. In these critical moments, we must not forget that:
- The Tirana incinerator is a criminal project resulting from a mafia-like collaboration between public officials and business. Both parties are responsible for stealing from the Albanian people.
- The stolen money must be traced wherever these thieves in official attire and business have hidden it, and every penny must be returned to the citizens. Go for it, SPAK, you just need a bit more to reach to the big fish of the Incinerator: [Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Engjëll] Agaçi, Rama, Veliaj.”
During investigations, SPAK has discovered that incinerators’ businessmen Klodian Zoto and Mirel Mërtiri have made indirect payments received as bribes amounting to 491,000 euros to former Deputy Prime Minister Arben Ahmetaj, who is now internationally wanted as being involved in the incinerators’ affair.
Investigations against Arben Ahmetaj were launched in 2022 and the Special Prosecutor’s Office has so far discovered undeclared properties and investments of the former deputy prime minister in 20 years.
He is accused of corruption, money laundering and non-declaration and concealment of assets.
Arben Ahmetaj has held several important positions during the ten years of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s governance in Albania. He has been the Director of Taxation, Minister of Economy and Entrepreneurship, Minister of Finance, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Reconstruction.
Ahmetaj’s dossier also involves the name of former Secretary General of the Socialist Party Damian Gjiknuri, a prominent figure criticized by the opposition for his involvement in the incinerators issue. He had previously held the Minister of Energy and Industry portfolio from 2013 to 2017 and subsequently served as the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy for just over a year.
The dossier alleged that in at least two instances, the entrepreneurs awarded incinerator contracts had paid for Gjiknuri’s foreign hotel stays. However, Gjiknuri vehemently denied these claims, stating that these were work-related visits and all expenses were appropriately covered by the ministry.