Did Damir Fazlic stage a comeback in Albania?

Admin // General News


February 27  

Among a group of businessmen known to be close to the family of the former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, during the last eight years, the name of Damir Fazlic was probably the most controversial. The Bosnian businessman was put under formal investigation several years ago for money laundering in a scheme that included the purchase and reselling of land owned by the family of Berisha.

Today, Daily Shqip in Tirana says that Mr. Fazlic had managed to win a lucrative and much debated contract for construction works for the new electricity interconnection line between Albania and Kosovo. The company Energovinest, partly owned by Fazlic, signed the 29 million euro contract last December. The news was first published in the French newspaper Le Monde.

The Ministry of Energy and Economy of Albania issued a statement today saying that basically the procurement process for the construction contract was closed during the previous administration and that Energovinest was the sole participant in this bid and thus, the winner. The new administration accepted the fait accompli and signed the contract in last December. It is unclear what role Mr. Fazlic played in this case, but the statement from MEE indicates that the new government does not intend to search for possible violations on this case.

Mr. Fazlic relationship with the previous government is detailed in a diplomatic cable of 2008 and leaked by Wikileaks.




DE RUEHTI #0752/01 2881515


P 141515Z OCT 08







C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TIRANA 000752




E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2018





Classified By: DCM Stephen A. Cristina, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


¶1.  (C) SUMMARY: Beginning on October 10 and continuing over

the weekend, Prime Minister Berisha and the Ministry of

Justice began a new campaign to intimidate and obstruct the

work of the Office of the Prosecutor General.  Alleging that

the PG’s Office had broken the law while trying last week to

question Bosnian businessman Damir Fazlic, the Ministry of

Justice first tried to seize prosecutor files relating to

Fazlic, then the Interior Ministry threatened to file charges

against two prosecutorial investigators involved in the

Fazlic investigation.  Finally, on October 13, Prime Minister

Berisha gave a rambling and emotional press conference at

which he strongly denied any government attempts to interfere

with the work of the PG and instead accused the PG’s office

of “undermining its own independence” through its failure to

follow the law.  END SUMMARY.





¶2.  (C) The October 2 detention in Bosnia of Bosnian

businessman Damir Fazlic set off a press feeding frenzy in

Tirana, with widespread speculation and allegation of

business ties between Fazlic and the families of Prime

Minister Berisha and Foreign Minister Basha.  Opposition MPs

joined the debate over alleged ties between Fazlic, Berisha

and Basha, and demanded answers from the government.  In an

effort to both clear his name and to stick a finger in the

eye of the opposition, Berisha arranged to have Fazlic fly to

Tirana on October 9 to give a TV interview to the pro-GOA

Klan TV.  Unbeknownst to Berisha, Albanian Prosecutors on

October 7 had opened a money laundering investigation

centered on Fazlic.  When prosecutors heard on October 9 that

Fazlic had arrived in Tirana on a private jet, they

immediately drafted a request that Fazic appear for



¶3.  (C)  Tipped off by police who were escorting Fazlic

around town, Fazlic made a dash to the airport where he

departed Tirana one hour earlier than planned.  Police

claimed that the summons for Fazlic did not reach them after

Fazlic had left, thus clearing police of the charge that they

had dragged their feet in delivering the summons to Fazlic,

as they are required by law to do.





¶4.  (C) At 7:30 PM on October 10, two investigators from the

Ministry of Justice arrived at the Tirana District

Prosecutor’s Office with a request to review the Fazlic file.

When the MoJ investigators were denied entry on the grounds

that they had not filed the necessary paperwork to review the

files, they refused to leave the Prosecutor’s Office.  On

October 11, the MoJ inspectors delivered a different request

to the Prosecutor General’s Office, this time requesting to

review the registry of all new criminal files opened since

September.  Berisha and others later claimed that the MoJ

investigators were simply trying to obtain “statistics” from

the PG’s office, but numerous sources have told the Embassy

that the MoJ was trying to seize the Fazlic case files.


¶5.  (C) On October 11, the Ministry of Interior said it would

“sue” two of the prosecutors involved in trying to summon

Fazlic, claiming that the attempt to question Fazlic violated

the law.  Numerous legal experts have ridiculed the MoI

attempt to bring charges against the prosecutors as “legal



¶6.  (SBU) Finally, on October 13, Berisha held an angry,

rambling press conference in which he defended Fazlic as well

as the actions of the Ministry of Justice and accused the

Prosecutor General’s Office of working against Fazlic at the

behest of the “mafia” and said the PG’s Office is

“undermining its own independence” through its alleged

failure to follow proper procedures.  Berisha made a vague

call for an “international investigation” into the Fazlic

case, as well as a “parliamentary commission” to look into

relations between the PG, MoJ and Ministry of Interior.


¶7.  (U) On October 13, the Embassy released the following

statement regarding the attacks on the Prosecutor’s Office:

“We are very troubled by the recent actions of the Minister

of Justice and Minister of Interior to interfere with the

independence of the prosecutor’s office during an ongoing

investigation.  All cases should be fully, completely and

independently investigated without any outside interference

or threats to the prosecutors.  Respect of all for


TIRANA 00000752  002 OF 002



independent institutions is essential for a healthy



¶8.  (U) On October 14, the EU Mission in Albania released the

following statement: “The Ambassadors of the European Union

in Tirana are troubled by recent developments concerning the

judicial system in Albania.  This may lead to undue

interference and possible institutional conflict in the

country.  We strongly call upon all, in particular the

government, to respect the Constitutional provisions and

principles of good governance, including accountability to

the law.”


¶9.  (C) COMMENT: Although seemingly precipitated by the

Fazlic firestorm, numerous sources have told the Embassy that

this attack on the Prosecutor General’s Office is just the

latest attempt to derail a number of ongoing investigations.

The first investigation is Gerdec, with the second being

serious corruption allegations against Foreign Minister Basha

and the Durres-Kukes road project, stemming from Basha’s time

as Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

Prosecutorial investigators are reportedly close to

completing their work on both the Gerdec and Durres-Kukes

investigations.  One source told PolOff that Berisha’s son

will be implicated in the Gerdec investigation and that

investigators have determined that financial abuse during the

Durres-Kukes road project – all during Basha’s stint as

Minister of Transport and Public Works – amounted to nearly

200 million euros.  Given the politically explosive nature of

these ongoing investigations, Berisha has ample reason to

continue and even increase pressure on the PG’s Office.