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EU Graft

The European Commission used to have its Albanian headquarters in Rr. Donika Kastrioti, right in the heart of the city. So it was a surprise when a while ago they moved to an anonymous building on the edge of the city on Rr. Durresit.

Now we have an explanation. OLAF, the Commission's anti-fraud unit has been involved in a lengthy inquiry concerning "suspicions of corruption, the manipulation of tender procedures and fraud in the context of the leasing and procurement of EC delegation buildings and their security installations in countries outside the EU."

The website of the EC delegation in Albania carries the press release from which this quote is taken, but what it doesn't say is that the circumstances surrounding the delegation's change of headquarters is at the heart of this inquiry.

Last Wednesday, in co-ordinated raids across Europe, three Italians were arrested. One of those arrested is Giancarlo Ciotto, an official at the Commission. According to the Italian news agency, ANSA, "Ciotti is suspected of pocketing bribes from real estate and security companies in return for the assignment of contracts to rent, equip and secure EC buildings," including the building on Rr. Durresit.

ANSA reports that the building in Tirana "is owned by a private company, one of whose partners is an Italian businessman based in Potenza" and notes other press stories claiming that the EU has been paying somewhere between 40,000 - 50,000 EUR per month.

If it weren't my taxes being wasted by this profligate and corrupt institution it would almost be funny, given recent activity by the Commission on the transparency of public funds, and the improving of external auditing.

Unfortunately we have all become so used to stories of the EU's corruption that we are no longer shocked or angered by it. Welcome to the club.


Anonymous said…
Makes you think if these officials have come to preach or to be preached.
Anonymous said…
...Or if they are preaching to the converted:)
Jeroen said…
At least they did something about it and made arrests. Here in Malaysia, the head (for 6 years) of the government's anti-corruption unit was kicked out of his job last week for... corruption! But instead of going to prison, the authorities thanked him for his valuable contributions.
elton said…
that is why we albanians are good at it, because we have had excellent teachers :)

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Petrela Castle

This is Petrela Castle near Tirana. The site has been fortified since the 4th century, but the oldest surviving parts are from the 13th century. Today the castle is a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch while taking in the views.