The political battle in Albania has focused for months on the mutual accusations about the benefits of political parties from Russian money in various forms of corruption. What started with accusations against the Democratic Party in 2019, continued with the involvement of Prime Minister Rama in the “McGonigal” scandal and with the accusations of bank transfers between Monika Kryemadhi and Russian oligarchs in offshore accounts. The former leader of the Socialist Movement for Integration, Kryemadhi, stated that very soon a request would come from the US to the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption for the interrogation of Prime Minister Rama, but Faktoje checked and found that as of the date of publication of this article, this claim is untrue.
After the publication in the media of three bank documents that raise allegations about Monika Kryemadhi having undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland, through which she conducted transactions with a Russian-owned company, the case was placed at the center of news and continuous speculation.
Bank documents still remain to be independently verified. Monika Kryemadhi considered the media that published them as facts, and even called on the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate their authenticity. On the other hand, she denied having an account in Switzerland and considers this a “scheme” invented against her.
In a television interview, where Kryemadhi explained the arguments for the case, one of them was related to another case under investigation, that of former FBI chief Charles McGonigal and the involvement of Prime Minister Rama in the FBI indictment. According to the former head of LSI, it is the developments of the investigation on McGonigal that have encouraged Prime Minister Rama to attack political opponents through untrue attacks.
The MCGonigal case, in which Prime Minister Rama is also involved, refers to the open investigation against the former head of the FBI, Charles McGonigal, who hid his acquaintances and meetings with several Albanian personalities, but mainly the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, the meetings with him which he did not report to the US FBI as required by law.
The reasons for hiding this relationship, which Prime Minister Rama refers to as a normal relationship, still remain to be discovered by the American judiciary that is following the investigations. And if the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the USA needs a testimony of Prime Minister Rama, according to legal practice, the FBI sends a letter to the Albanian Prosecutor’s Office, which also defines the questions that should be addressed to the witness on account of the investigation in the USA. This is exactly what Monika Kryemadhi warned on April 3.
“I’m afraid that very soon there will be a letter rogatory for Mr. Rama.” – said Monika Kryemadhi . Faktoje decided to inquire about this information in the institution that would receive such a request in case it was sent. Through an official request for information, Faktoje asked SPAK if they had received any correspondence for Prime Minister Rama, regarding the McGonigal case.
The answer from SPAK came to Faktoje on April 20.
“We hereby inform you that there has NOT been a request for legal assistance filed with the Special Prosecutor’s Office by US law enforcement authorities related to the McGonigal case.”
SPAK, APRIL 20, 2023
“We hereby inform you that the Special Prosecutor’s Office has NOT filed any request for legal assistance from US law enforcement authorities related to the McGonigal case.” – Special Structure against Corruption and Organized Crime, SPAK, April 20, 2023
In September 2022, the Democratic Party was identified by VOA as one of these political parties that had received money from Russia in the 2017 election year.
In January 2023, another “connection” of Albania to Russian money occurred in the FBI’s indictment of McGonigal. According to the FBI, McGonigal agreed to provide services to a Russian oligarch, from whom he received several payments, on behalf of his Albanian friend, Agron Neza. The latter was part of the meetings with Prime Minister Rama that McGonigal hid from the FBI. Also, Neza was also the “informant” in the investigative case opened by the FBI about the lobbying of the Democratic Party with Russian money in America.
In March 2023, the Russian money ” arrived ” in the account of the former head of LSI, Monika Kryemadhi.
The fact remains that so far none of the accusations of benefiting from Russian money have been clarified by the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office. If the case about the Russian lobbying of the Democratic Party was closed due to lack of evidence, for the other two accusations there is no official notification of the initiation of an investigation by SPAK.
*This article was produced as part of the regional initiative of the Center Against Disinformation of the Western Balkans