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Politike

The incinerators' money guarantees Arben Ahmetaj's life on the run, here are the transfers of hundreds of thousands of euros by Albanian taxpayers to Swiss offshores, SPAK reveals that the businessman who is helping him in Lugano is accused of money laundering

The incinerators' money guarantees Arben Ahmetaj's life on the run,

In July 2018, Stela Gugallja and Ilir Dedja appeared in a notary's office in the former Block area in the center of Tirana to sign a contract worth 500 thousand euros for the sale of shares in the company CGC - a loss-making company. no activity and zero assets on its balance sheet. Gugallja was known at the time as the owner of the Elbasan incinerator concession, one of the three infamous "Rama" government contracts that were expected to cost Albanian taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros. While Dedja was one of the many unknown Albanian immigrants who had just moved from Italy to Switzerland. Dedja's plans at the time he bought the CGC company are not entirely known, but the Special Prosecutor's Office believes through its investigation that the contract to buy shares from Gugallja was fictitious. It was different a year later, when Dedja returned the shares in exchange for 600,000 euros, which were sent through four bank transfers to his account in Switzerland. This was not the only business deal between Dedja, 55 years old, and the administrators of the incinerator affair, which enabled the transfer of hundreds of thousands of euros of Albanian taxpayers to the offshore jurisdiction of Switzerland, reports "BIRN". In 2021, four more transfers worth about 500 thousand euros were transferred from the Integrated Energy BV SPV company of the Tirana incinerator to the Lugano-based company 3DDD Swiss Trading SA, also controlled by Dedja. Bank transfers to tax havens through the use of fictitious contracts are one of the classic forms of money laundering in the world and in Albania. However, Albanian investigators had an additional reason to trace the money flowing from the incinerator companies to Switzerland, as they are suspected of financing the former's life on the run. No. 2 of the Albanian government, Arben Ahmetaj and his partner. Ahmetaj was one of the key figures in Prime Minister Edi Rama's cabinet for a decade, until the Special Prosecutor's Office requested the authorization of the Assembly for his arrest in July of last year on charges of corruption, money laundering and concealment of wealth. Ahmetaj evaded justice and after fleeing the country, applied for asylum in Switzerland in September 2023. While the connections of the former deputy prime minister with the notorious businessmen of the incinerators were known from the preliminary stage, the new SPAK investigations and the exchange of information with the Swiss authorities have revealed his new connections with the Albanian immigrant, Ilir Dedja. According to SPAK, Dedja is the person who guarantees the accommodation of Ahmetaj's partner in the picturesque city of Lugano in Switzerland. Ahmetaj denies the accusations and calls himself "a scapegoat" of Prime Minister Rama for the issue of incinerators. Dedja was unavailable for comment by BIRN.

"Business consultant"

Pallati në rrugën Boschina në lagjen Pregassona të Luganos, ku sipas autoriteteve zvicerane jeton partnerja e tij, Erjola Hoxha.

The incinerators' money guarantees Arben Ahmetaj's life on the run,

Sipas një dokumenti për “njoftim akuze” të Prokurorisë së Posaçme, SPAK, njohja mes Ahmetajt dhe Ilir Dedjes besohet se shkon pas në fund të viteve '80, kur të dy ishin studentë në fakultetin “Histori – Filologji” në Tiranë. Nga këqyrja e regjistrave në Degën e Gjuhëve të Huaja ka rezultuar se Ahmetaj është regjistruar në degën “Anglisht” në vitin 1987 dhe i ka përfunduar studimet në vitin 1991. Dedja me origjinë nga fshati Seferaj i Kavajës është regjistruar një vit më vonë, por rezultoi përsëritës dhe nuk i përfundoi studimet pas vitit 1991. Në Shqipërinë post-komuniste, Ahmetaj bëri karrierë fillimisht si këshilltar në Ministrinë e Financave dhe më pas si njeri në biznes, derisa ish-kryeministri Fatos Nano e katapultoi në politikë si drejtor i Përgjithshëm i Tatimeve dhe zv/ministër. Pas rikthimit të socialistëve në pushtet në vitin 2013, Ahmetaj kontrolloi disa prej portofoleve më të rëndësishme të kabinetit “Rama”, derisa hetimet e nisura nga Prokuroria e Posaçme për lidhjet e tij me Mirel Mërtirin dhe Klodian Zoton e rrëzuan atë nga pushteti në korrik të vitit 2022. Në anën tjetër të Adriatikut, Dedja jetoi për dy dekada si tregtar në Itali, derisa u transferua në Lugano të Zvicrës si “një konsulent biznesi” në mars të vitit 2017 – një destinacion i preferuar botëror për kompanitë guackë. Menjëherë pas zhvendosjes në Zvicër, Dedja themeloi kompaninë “Drax Consult Sagl”, e cila tre vjet më vonë u përfshi në një skandal në Zimbabve të Afrikës i njohur si “Covidgate”. “Drax Consult Sagl” dhe “Drax International” nënshkruan kontrata me vlerë dhjetra milionë dollarë për furnizimin e kompanisë shtetërore të Zimbabves, NatPharm me pajisje për luftën kundër COVID-19 – çka solli arrestimin e ministrit të Shëndetësisë, Obadiah Moyo dhe i kushtoi Dedjes një hetim për pastrim parash në Hungari. Moyo u çlirua nga akuzat në tetor të vitit 2021. Sipas informacionit të ardhur nga Zvicra në SPAK, Dedja “rezulton të jetë person i akuzuar për veprën penale të pastrimit të parave” në kuadrin e një kërkese për ndihmë juridike të kryer nga Prokuroria e Budapestit dhe e ekzekutuar më datë 5 dhjetor 2022 nga policia e kantonit të Ticinos. Dedja ishte i paarritshëm për koment, por i pyetur nga BIRN në vitin 2020 për biznesin në Zimbabve, u përgjigj se kishte bërë biznes të ligjshëm përmes një studioje ligjore, pa udhëtuar asnjëherë atje dhe pa takuar asnjë politikan të nivelit të lartë. “Unë kam dorëzuar 2.7 milionë USD pajisje në Zimbabve dhe jam paguar vetëm për 2 milionë USD,” tha ai, duke shtuar se përfaqësuesit e tij ligjorë do ta ndiqnin çështjen deri në fund. Paralelisht me aventurën në Afrikë, Dedja e vazhdoi biznesin më Mërtirin dhe Zoton përmes një kompanie tjetër të tij, të quajtur 3DDD Swiss Trading SA, sot me emrin e ndryshuar 3DDD Swiss SA. Në vitin 2019, 3DDD Swiss Trading SA nënshkroi një kontratë me vlerë 5.2 milionë euro me kompaninë e inceneratorit të Tiranës, Integrated Energy BV SPV për blerjen e një impianti për trajtimin e ujërave të përdorura. Sipas SPAK, Dedja është administratori i vetëm dhe ka mbajtur pozicionin e zv/drejtorit për shoqërinë “3DDD Swiss SA”. Dedja vazhdoi të vilte frytet e kësaj kontrate deri në shkurt 2021, duke marrë pagesa të dokumentuara nga Shqipëria me një vlerë totale prej 490 mijë eurosh.

Life on the run

Illustrative photo from the picturesque city of Lugano in Switzerland. Photo: Pixabay

The incinerators' money guarantees Arben Ahmetaj's life on the run,

Pregassona is a quiet hillside neighborhood in Lugano, which takes its name from the river Cassone that runs through it. From June 1, 2022, Pregassona has become a second home for Erjola Hoxha, partner of former Deputy Prime Minister Arben Ahmetaj. According to the response received as part of the execution of the order letter from the justice authorities of the Confederation of Switzerland, Hoxha lives together with her daughter on Boschina street in Pregassona. Ahmetaj left for Switzerland almost a year after his partner and since September 2023 he has the status of an asylum seeker. His whereabouts are unclear, but according to a temporary residence permit in Switzerland, he has the same address as Hoxha. The apartment where Hoxha lives is located on the sixth floor of a new building and is rented for 1,750 francs per month [about 1,800 euros]. "The guarantor of this contract is the citizen Ilir Dedja, born on September 2, 1969," says the SPAK document. In addition to the apartment in Pregassona, Hoxha has also rented a second and several times more expensive apartment in a historical building in Lugano on "Stefano Franscini" street, an apartment owned by the municipality. This apartment was used as an official address, but it does not appear to have been inhabited by them. Ahmetaj's presence stirred the waters of local politics in Lugano this spring, as city councilors demanded an explanation of how the city-owned apartment was rented to his partner. BIRN learned that Hoxha had rented the apartment on the open market, after a tender to rent it at a monthly rate of 4,450 francs per month failed to attract bidders.

 

 

 

In addition to the guarantee given for the rental of the apartment, Ilir Dedjen and Erjola Hoxha are also linked by the same workplace in Lugano. According to the Swiss authorities, Dedja is employed as a commercial consultant for the company "Phronesis Consulting Sagl" - the same company that also employed Hoxha in June 2022 with a monthly salary of 9,208 francs per month [about 9,500 euros]. "The citizen Erjola Hoxha, since the day she received her residence permit, has been employed as a consultant at Phronesis Consulting Sagl. According to the calculations of withholding tax on wages and compensatory income, for the period from June 1 to December 31, 2022, it results that citizen Erjola Hoxha received a total of CHF 64,456.35 gross," says the SPAK document. Although there is no data on the ownership of the consulting company, "Phronesis Consulting Sagl", the Special Prosecutor's Office doubts the authenticity of these employment relationships. "...the citizen Erjola Hoxha appears in an employment relationship with the company Phronesis, which turns out to be also connected to the citizen Ilir Dedja, creating reasonable suspicion that these employment relationships are fictitious," concludes SPAK.

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