Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government has proposed a financial and legal amnesty for individuals who legalise up to two million euros worth of undeclared assets by paying a tax ranging from five to ten percent.
Under the scheme, those who choose to reveal their undeclared assets can do so without obligation to report the source of those assets.
The opposition has rejected the proposed scheme, arguing that it would allow criminals to launder the proceeds of illegal activity. Money laundering and organised crime remain serious issues in Albania.
“The law will only help human traffickers and drug dealers,” claimed opposition MP Ervin Salianji.
A similar scheme was proposed to Tirana last year, but was withdrawn over staunch opposition from the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the grounds that it could aid money-laundering.
This year’s draft law proposes that Albanian citizens living in Albania or abroad, as well as foreigners with tax residency in Albania, can declare up to two million euros in cash or property if they pay a tax of seven to ten percent. As part of the scheme, undeclared assets legalized in this way must remain in Albania for at least five years.
A tax of just five percent will be applied to undeclared assets used to purchase bonds or treasury bills.
According to the draft bill, the process is to be overseen by a commission at the General Tax Directorate. Those declaring their assets would not be asked about the source of the funds, and the commission would provide full privacy to beneficiaries.
Moreover, any criminal or administrative offences that may have been committed in obtaining the assets, such as tax evasion or fraud, will be pardoned under the scheme.
Rama’s administration has worked to frame the scheme as targeting individuals who have emigrated to other countries illegally, but put aside funds that cannot be declared to banks and repatriated.
The Socialist Party secretary-general, Damian Gjiknuri, told a group of Albanian emigrants in Britain that the draft law is designed to assist “boys in London who have taken risks.”
Those critical of the law say it is a blatant attempt to help drug dealers repatriate their funds to Albania, and that no illegal immigrant could save up to two million euros via honest means.
Politicians and senior officials will be exempt from the scheme, as well as any relatives listed in their “family certificate.” Other relatives, however, could still be used as proxies by politicians and senior officials.
Image via Pixabay.