The Special Prosecution Against Organised Crime and Corruption said it had commenced two investigations into President Ilir Meta over his lobbying contracts with US firms.
Prosecutors said the investigations were launched on the back of two criminal complaints issued by MP Halit Valteri accusing Meta of abuses related to his lobbying contracts.
Meta slammed the announcement as “absurd news,” but said it would not deter him from performing his duties as a president until 24 July, when his mandate ends.
Valteri filed a criminal complaint on 7 June, targeting Meta and his wife Monika Kryemadhi. Kryemadhi is the head of the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) party, and a former speaker of parliament. The criminal complaint also targeted Iraklis Fidetzis, the administrator of a Cyprus-based company, Dorelita Limited.
The complaint accused the individuals of corruption, concealment of income, non-payment of taxes, concealment of assets, money laundering, and other offences.
The accusations relate to a lobbying contract between a US consulting and lobbying firm, the McKeon Group, and the LSI party in 2017.
Valteria filed a second criminal complaint on 16 June, accusing Meta, Kryemadhi, and certain LSI officials of refusing to declare assets, and of committing acts of corruption and money laundering. The second complaint cites a contract between the LSI party and US security consulting and investigative firm Global Security and Innovative Strategies.
The LSI party, which held a coalition government with the Socialist Party in 2016, reportedly hired the US firm to improve its image for a monthly retainer of $30,000.
According to documents made public by the US Department of Justice, Global Security and Innovative Strategies was tasked with “educating United States governmental officials… regarding the LSI’s commitment to implement justice reforms, enhance Albania’s economy, strengthen security approaches and food security programs.”
Among the firm’s founders are the former head of the US Secret Service, Marc Sullivan, and the former Deputy Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar.
The following year, in 2017, the LSI party signed an agreement with the McKeon Group. The agreement stated LSI would pay $15,000 a month for six months in return for securing invitations for LSI leaders to attend the inauguration of incoming US President Donald Trump.
McKeon Group would reportedly also organise meetings between LSI representatives and other political leaders during their visit to Washington.
From 20 January 2017, McKeon Group was also expected to help foster a “good and special relationship” between the LSI party and the incoming Republican administration in the US.
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