Albania Central Bank Chief Grilled Over Theft

News 30 Jul 14

Parliament’s commission on the economy held a hearing on Wednesday with governor Ardian Fullani, following the reported theft of 713 million lek (5 million euro) from the central bank.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN

Tirana

After a hearing held behind closed doors, the head of the parliamentary commission on economy, Erjon Brace, said the theft had damaged the image of the bank.

“All those responsible for this criminal affair should be thoroughly investigated and brought to justice,” Brace said. “This theft has tainted the image of Albania’s central bank,” he added.

Prosecutors arrested last week two bank employees, suspected of stealing up to 713 million lek in cash from its reserve building.

At a press conference after the hearing Fullani said that the bank was “cooperating with the prosecutor’s office to bring to justice those responsible”.

According to local media, one of the two suspects, Ardian Bitraj, has admitted the theft and has told prosecutors that he lost the money gambling on football games and electronic casinos.

In a statement on Tuesday, the bank’s supervisory board said that the theft had occurred over some time but insisted that the bank’s operations had not been affected.

“The inventory of the cash deposit has been carried out regularly in accordance with the law and procedures,” the board said.

“The theft occurred in an intermediary front desk, where daily cash operations are carried out, due to the failure to apply procedures by a group of employees,” it added.

In a statement, the speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta, backed the prosecutor’s probe into the theft but asked that the theft should not be used to tarnish the image of the bank.

“I am convinced that the prosecutor’s office will bring to justice all the people implicated,” Meta said.

“This event shouldn’t be used to damage the reputation of the bank because it was identified and reported by its own structures,” he added.

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