15 Apr 13 / 16:47:37

Reaction to Article: Tax-Haven Data Leak Exposes Albanian Politician

Genc Pollo, Albanian Minister for Innovation and ICT

Dear Mrs Igric (BIRN Regional Director / Editor of Balkan Insight),
I read with dismay that the BalkanInsight article Tax haven data leak exposes Albanian politician, published on 12 April 2013 and authored by Altin Raxhimi and Besar Likmeta pretended that I have withdrawn a libel lawsuit against Socialist Party MP Taulant Balla.

In the article's context such an allegation has been construed as an indication of wrongdoing from my side.

Nothing can further form the truth.

I cancelled a  concession bid for a backbone network not because the only appearing bidder had hired Taulant Balla's brother in law as sales chief, but because it had serious problems with competition rules.

Balla’s accusation in Parliament in relation with this concession bid  was that  I had taken  a 1.2 million USD bribe and deposited it in a Cyprus bank. Even if my probity in two decades of public service would be casted aside, it is difficult to understand why somebody would pay so much money for nothing (a company might pay a bribe for receiving a contract) and how I have placed it in a Cyprus bank, an island I have not been in, since an official visit in the early 1990s.

As I believe that such allegations made this way should be supported by evidence and since Balla was apparently unable to do so, I took him to court. Despite Balla's delaying tactics (not appearing on several court sessions claiming to be sick, abroad or busy)  and so far not providing any evidence,  the court case is coming to an end with its next session scheduled for 15 April 2013 (please see attached the Pollo vs. Balla case track extracted from the Tirana District Court website www.gjykatatirana.gov.al). Your Tirana correspondents, Messrs. Raxhimi and Likmeta could have learned about the ongoing process from this website or related media reports.

I am surprised that they  did not contact me, my office or my lawyer to check facts on this issue since they intended to mention my name and case. You would certainly agree that checking facts this way  would correspond to standard journalistic practice of professional and serious investigative media; a practice that I am sure BalkanInsight strives to follow.

As your article is obviously a defamation attempt in my regard I demand a full apology from BalkanInsight, proper rectification and the prominent publishing of this letter on your website.

I hope not to have to resort to another libel lawsuit. 

Minister for Innovation and ICT

Reaction to:

Investigation 11 Apr 13

Tax-Haven Data Leak Exposes Albanian Politician

A former opposition MP who headed Albania’s largest public corporation failed to disclose an offshore entity as required by law, Balkan Insight can reveal.

Altin Raxhimi and Besar Likmeta