Albanian prosecutors probe opposition Democrats over lobbying funds

Albanian prosecutors probe opposition Democrats over lobbying funds
By bne IntelliNews November 30, 2017

The Albanian prosecutor’s office has reportedly launched an investigation into money the opposition Democratic Party used for lobbying in the US. 

The revelations have been seized upon by the ruling Socialists, which vanquished their conservative rival in the June general election. The Democratic Party suffered a huge loss in the election, winning just 43 seats while the Socialists increased their MPs to 74 in the 140-seat parliament.

Now prosecutors have contacted both the Democrats and Albania’s Central Election Commission, asking them whether a informal payment of $675,000 (€570,000) made via offshore-registered companies was declared by the party, Associated Press reported. 

The Prosecutor General’s office has not yet responded to a request from bne IntelliNews for confirmation. 

Speaking to the parliament on November 30, the head of the Socialist Party’s parliamentary group, Taulant Balla, accused Democratic leader Lulzim Basha of illegally paying around $1mn for lobbying in the US before Albania's June 25 general election. It’s not clear why the figure differs from that announced by prosecutors. 

In a strongly worded statement, Balla accused the Democrats of being involved in a “filthy cash transaction”. He also claimed that “confirmed sources” suggest that the money was channeled via an offshore account to hide the identity of the donor. 

Basha reacted to the accusation saying that everything had been declared to the central election commission (CEC).

“Albanians know how much money the Democratic Party spent on its election campaign. You may address to the CEC, where we have declared everything,” Basha was cited by Albanian Daily news.