An article by the Turkish media TRT has accused the Albanian Muslim Community of misappropriating the funds collected to help those affected by the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023. The news was then shared in the Albanian online media. Faktoje verified that the donations collected by the Albanian Muslim Community (AMC) were donated to three different destinations, none of which is related to the claim made by Turkish media TRT.
The funds collected by the Albanian Muslim Community in aid of the victims of the February 6 earthquake that affected Turkey and Syria have been turned into controversy by the Turkish media, which with the help of some Albanian online media are also distributed in the Albanian language.
Accusations An article published on April 19 by the Turkish media TRT , entitled “ How FETO deceived donors and misused earthquake relief funds in Albania ” claims that “ Donations collected for earthquake victims never reached the intended recipients.”, after they were transferred to FETO headquarters in Pennsylvania. ”
* Image of the article published by the Turkish media TRT where accusations are raised about AMC donations
The article alleges that the campaign launched by the Albanian Muslim Community to receive donations managed to collect 13 million dollars in aid and not 130,000 as this community has declared to the Albanian authorities. According to the Turkish media, the undeclared money to the Albanian state was transferred to the headquarters of FETO in Pennsylvania. According to the news, the Ministry of Finance in Albania has launched an investigation into these allegations.
Based on this news, Faktoje contacted the Albanian Muslim Community to request information regarding the donation campaign and their final destination.
Collection of donations
The Albanian Muslim community denied accusations raised by the Turkish media about €121,000 being collected from all the muftis in Albania in response to calls for donations. A web search shows that AMC opened three bank accounts in different currencies (ALL, EUR, USD) at Credins Bank in Albania to collect donations.
*the call published by AMC for the collection of donations after the earthquake in Turkey
This shows that the donations were collected through bank accounts opened just for this occasion. AMC also informed Faktoje about the amount of money collected through these accounts, which in the final banking mandate that Faktoje obtained, is calculated as 13,788,637 ALL or 120,973 euros.
At the same time, Azmi Stringa, an expert in economy, clarified for Faktoje that the Ministry of Finances has no role in the supervision of such money, as long as the bank account is opened in the name of AMC and not the Albanian state.
Where was the money sent?
According to the bank documents that Faktoje consulted, this money was sent to three different destinations. Thus, €18,310 was sent to the Iskenderun Mufti in Turkey on March 23, 2023, through the Shkodra Mufti. The sum of €53,356 was sent to the account of the Turkish Civil Emergency Headquarters (AFAD) on April 26, 2023. The rest of €50,200 was sent to Syria through the Syrian embassy in Prague on April 27, 2023.
Two transfers were made from the bank account of the Albanian Muslim Community and one of them from the bank account of Shkodra Muftini.
The claim raised by TRT and distributed in copy-paste in some Albanian media, for 13 million euros collected by the Albanian Muslim Community is an accusation not based on any fact or documents. On the other hand, through the bank documents that Faktoje verified, it turns out that the Albanian Muslim Community collected about 121 thousand euros for the earthquake in Turkey, which were then donated through three bank transfers to the Turkish and Syrian states.
Faktoje addressed the Turkish media TRT asking for the basis of such accusations, and is waiting for an answer.
*This article was produced as part of the regional initiative the Center Against Disinformation of the Western Balkans
Edited by: Viola Keta & Aimona Vogli