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News 19 Dec 12

$1.3bn Spirited Out of Albania, Report Says

Global Financial Integrity, GFI, says corrupt elite took more than $1.3 billion (€983 million) out of Albania from 2005-2010.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha

The Washington-based anti-corruption advocacy group says that money equivalent to a third of Albania’s annual budget flowed illicitly out of the country over five years through a combination of corruption, tax evasion, and other illegal activities.

Clark Gascoigne, a spokesperson for the watchdog told Balkan Insight, that it believes 60 per cent of this money came from tax evasion, 35 per cent from criminal activity and 5 per cent from corruption.

GIF, which uses official World Bank and IMF data, says that in 2008 alone, $405 million (€306 million) were transferred illicitly out of Albania, while an annual average of $131 million (€99 million) moved into offshore tax havens.

“It’s an enormous amount of money for a country like Albania too lose, and if this money had stayed inside the country, it could have been used in infrastructure, education and to pull people out of poverty,” Gascoigne said.

“On top of that, these outflows fuel the underground economy, crime and corruption, exasperating income inequality by making the rich richer and the poor poorer,” he added.

The data published by GFI coincide with the ascendance to power in 2005 of the government of Sali Berisha, who promised "zero tolerance" of corruption.

However, his centre-right government has been marred by corruption scandals reaching the highest echelons of power.

The 2012 Transparency International corruption perception index describes Albania as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.

The Berlin-based watchdog organisation ranked Albania in 113th position out of 176 countries in 2012, down from 95th place in 2011.

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