News 23 May 13

Ex Anti-Corruption Kosovo Chief Jailed for Corruption

Five-year sentence for ex-prosecutor who offered to drop investigations against bank officials in exchange for bribes.

By Petrit Collaku and Armend Zenelaj

The former head of Kosovo’s anti-corruption task force, Nazmi Mustafi, was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison and fined 10,000 euro for extorting money from people he was investigating and for illegal possession of a firearm.

Mustafi, a prosecutor appointed to head the task force by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, was handling cases involving the liquidation of four banks. Through his friends, Reshad and Xhelal Zherk, Mustafa extorted 30,250 euro from Pashk Mirashi, a suspect in the case of the Credit Bank.

The Zherka brothers were sentenced to four years in prison and fined 10,000 euro for their role in the crimes. Another intermediary, Mirela Ndoci, was sentenced to three months in prison and fine 10,000 euro for attempting to extort suspects at three other banks.

A prosecutor in the EU Rule of Law mission, EULEX, handled the case.  The case dates back to 2008, when Kosovo police received two anonymous complaints about irregularities in the banking sector.

The letters contained allegations against a former liquidator of the former Credit Bank in Gjakova, Pashk Mirash, two officials from NLB Prishtina, Lavdim Koshutova and Albert Lumnezi, and Vullnet Latifi from the Bank for Business.

Following an investigation, police forwarded charges to the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Mustafi took over the case of Mirashi in 2010, and informed Reshad and Xhelal Zherka about it. According to the indictment, Mustafi asked the Zherka brothers to contact Mirashi and offer to “solve the case” for 50,000 euro.  

The Zherka brothers met Mirashi in August 2010 at a restaurant in Gjakova. Mirashi said he was willing to pay 27,000 euro to the prosecutor - but the brothers insisted on 50,000. Mirashi then made a series of payments of less than 50,000. Later, after getting no concrete response about the status of the case against him, he contacted police.

The police in turn had Mirashi make an additional payment. Mirashi had a cousin delivery money to the brothers, and had them sign a piece of paper to acknowledge receipt of the money.

Mustafi also conspired with Ndoci to extort money from other suspects, according to the indictment. Mustafi had  Ndoci inform Latifi, Lumnezi, Koshutova and Govori that he was planning to arrest them and offered to end the investigation in return for money. It is unclear, however, if any payments were made.

EULEX had been investigating the Mustafi for almost a year. Most the cases he had handled were dropped because of lack of evidence or because the suspects were freed.

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