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Kosovo: Top List of the Corrupted

Prishtinë, Apr 13, 2006 (Express)

The Airport of Pristina - this Company spilled over the cup with the accusations and suspicions for corruption in public enterprises. An investigation made by the UN Internal Control (OIOS) marked the last black spot for this enterprise, and also for all other international and local institutions. This Office has accused UNMIK Chief, Soren Jessen Petersen, of turning a blind eye to all corruption, general mismanagement, and all other misuses in the Airport since 2004.

The managers of one of the most profitable enterprises have been accused even earlier of misuses and corruption. One of the most recent cases is the one of the Financial Manager of the AP, Haki Latifaj, who has resigned, at the same time accusing the AP Board for having caused many problems. One of the problems, according to Latifaj, was the disregard of the Airport Financial Department towards increasing the staff in human resources (for 50 %) and ignore the budget limits.

To investigate many suspicions, from which many were published in the media as well, a commission was established two months ago by UNMIK. The Commission was entitled to review such suspicions at the Airport. Ilir Salihu, Director for POE's at the KTA, said that the Task Force (ITF) has compiled several reports, but those are UNMIK internal, and have not been studied so far.

KEK - Since the end of the war, many international administrators came and went. Apart from Joe Trutschler, none of the other managers has been put to justice, although many accusations were addressed to international and local managers. Investigation was initiated by OLAF (the office of Anti-corruption of the EU). This group, which is bound to undertake legal auditing of KEK activities, had recently engaged in a detailed checking of all KEK management offices, taking with them thousands of documents.

This check was a continuation of the investigation on Trutschler, for stealing millions of Euros from KEK. Trutschler was sentenced by a court in Bochum, Germany, for three and a half years, while the money was returned to KEK. Such theft was the first case found of UNMIK officials abusing.

KTA - Corruption accusations cannot be avoided by the Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA). One of the most discussed issues was the case of "Ferronikeli" in Gllogovc. The withdrawal of Samsung and Nikomed, the approval of only two bidders, in contradiction to the procedures of having at least three bidders paved the way for suspicion on abuses.

The trade union, together with the workers, supported also by the political opposition and the highest bidder, Adi Nikel, property of the Albanian-American, Adriatik Pasho, had all opposed the proclamation of Alferon as the winner of the Ferronikeli tender. The sale process took 15 months, which is a record in privatizing a single enterprise. Adi Nikel had justified its withdrawal with the alleged request by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Bujar Dugolli, for a large amount of money. Although the Minister had denied such allegations, it was clearly seen that he supported Alferon in gaining the enterprise, and he had also sent a letter to the Board stating "it is clear that FENIKO must be disqualified and the Board should take into consideration the tender awarding to the Alferon group". The workers, together with the PDK, the main opposition party, had continuously opposed the privatization. Still, after many accusations, the KTA dismissed Murat Meha, the manager of the enterprise, accusing him of preventing privatization, and continued further with the signature of the contract with Alferon, at an offer 16 million Euros lower than the first one.

The next case is the enterprises "Grand" and "Iliria" Hotels. "Makos" Consortium had withdrawn in the last minute with the justification of being threatened, while authorities in charge have not found anything to confirm or deny such allegations. The Board again gave the "Iliria" hotel to this consortium. "It is not against the rules of privatization. It is very important to state that these are only provisional winners, and the background check will be made by the police,” said Ruecker, UNMIK Pillar IV chief.

"The Board had decided something else without me. In essence, around 80 % of the decisions made were opposed by the trade unions,” said Bahri Shabani, head of the BSPK, the trade unions, also a KTA Board member.

Alcatel, Monaco Telecom and Infonova - The Post and Telecommunications of Kosovo have long been the most mentioned institution for corruption. Accusations had begun from the moment when UNMIK, together with several local experts, had selected the Alcatel Company as a partner for purchasing equipment and to use the Monaco Code for the provisional code for Kosovo.

At that time, there were doubts that the then SRSG Bernard Kouchner had been biased with the selection of a French company. Dozens of other corruptive affairs had followed later, with the "Infonova Case" being the major one.

The PTK authorities, in cooperation with the Pillar II of UNMIK, had signed an agreement, which weighted € 40 million, without undergoing procurement procedures. The police had arrested Leme Xhema, the then PTK Director, together with other officials, on this case but the case failed because of political interventions.

The hearing of the suspects was related to the arresting of Gerard Fischer, who was at that time the Deputy SRSG and Head of Pillar II, who also had signed such a contract. The insisting of an international Prosecutor failed, while Fischer lives and works somewhere in the Scandinavian countries, calmly.

Gazeta Express

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