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Albanian Politics:

My March 9 letter to Prosecutor General Ina Rama


Posted on Tuesday, March 18 @ 14:51:39 PDT by classiclady

Albania News
    Yesterday, following the devastating explosion at Gerdec, Fatmir Mediu resigned from his post as
    Gary Q. Kokalari - Political Analyst
    Albania's Minister of Defense. It is also my understanding that Ylli Pinari, Director of Meico (the Defense Ministry's export arm) and Milhal Delijorgji,

    By Mr.Gary Q Kokalari sent exclusively to ACLIS

    one of the contractors for the Gerdec munitions demolition project, were placed under arrest.

    Below is my March 9, 2008 letter to Prosecutor General Ina Rama regarding an arms deal involving an American company known as AEY, Meico and the U.S. government along with my related October 10, 2007 letter to then Prosecutor General Theodori Sollaku.

    The transcript of a telephone conversation between two of the people who were intimately involved with the AEY/Meico contract will soon be released. The transcript alleges that Milhal Delijorgji is also implicated in the AEY deal described in my letter, and he is reputed to have maintained close relationships with Mediu and Pinari.



    As reported by the Associated Press, the explosion has resulted in tragedy with at least 16 deaths and almost 300 injured, including innocent children. The report also indicates that over 2,000 homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed. If Delijorgji was involved with the Gerdec contract, this raises some very serious questions, such as, what credentials does Delijorgji have with the handling and demolition of weapons and munitions? What are the credentials of Southern Ammunition Company and AEY? Who approved Delijorgji and Southern Ammunition for this contract? Who approved him for this contract? Why was such an obviously dangerous project being done in a heavily inhabited area? What exactly is the nature of the relationship between Delijorgji, Pinari, Mediu, and Skelzen Berisha (son of Prime Minister Sali Berisha)? Does Delijorgji have a criminal record, if so, how was it possible for him to be awarded a sensitive military contract? Why did Mediu and Pinari insist that Albania's arms deals be conducted through a mysterious Cyprus-based company? Both the U.S. and Albanian governments have known about my allegations regarding the suspicious AEY/Meico arms deal and the alleged involvement of Delijorgji for months. Given what they knew, why didn't they intervene to prevent the accident waiting to happen at Gerdec?

    For the record, Ina Rama has not yet responded to my letter. I followed up with a message to President Bamir Topi on March 12, and I have not yet heard from him. Frankly, I can live without their correspondence - I get enough emails - but they need to act and I demand of them now what I demanded then: do your jobs on behalf of the people of Albania and aggressively investigate and prosecute all and any corrupt Albanian officials regardless of position or political affiliation.

    Along with Delijorgji and Pinari, it is now time for Fatmir Mediu to be investigated for his role in these deals and if warranted, indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is also time to commence an investigation of Sali Berisha's role in these and other transactions as well as persistent rumors about the business dealings of his relatives. Finally, what do 1997 and 2008 have in common? In both years Berisha's stupidity and selfish ways caused mass death and destruction to innocent Albanians!

    Stay tuned for more revelations.

    Gary Q. Kokalari

    March 9, 2008
    The Hon. Ina Rama
    Prosecutor General
    Republic of Albania
    Tirana, Albania


    Your Honor:

    Below please find my October 10, 2007 letter to then Prosecutor General Theodori Sollaku describing what I believe constituted a criminal conspiracy of senior Albanian government officials engaged in the sale of ammunition from military stockpiles. An Albanian translation of this letter
    Mrs. Ina Rama - Albanian Top Prosecutor
    (see below) was emailed to Sollaku on October 22, 2007; however, he was unable to conduct an investigation due to the fact he was relieved of his duties by President Bamir Topi.

    Because you now serve as Albania's Chief Prosecutor, I am asking you to open an investigation of this matter.

    Please be advised that I have submitted this information to various U.S. government agencies and several members of Congress. As a result, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) opened a case and dispatched agents to Tirana to commence an investigation which included an interview with Kosta Trebicka. You should be aware that by selling/exporting Chinese manufactured ammunition to supply a U.S. government contract, Albanian government officials may have violated U.S. weapon sales regulations and possibly those of NATO. For this and other reasons, such as allegations that senior Albanian government officials have profited from this deal, it is my understanding that DOD may deem this a criminal investigation.

    What brought this issue to my attention was my communication with Kosta Trebicka who alerted me to the fact that Meico, the export arm of Albania's Ministry of Defense (MOD), forced AEY, an American company seeking to fulfill a $300 million procurement contract on behalf of the U.S. government, to purchase ammunition from Albanian stockpiles at a substantial price mark-up through Evdin, a Cyprus-based company controlled by a Swiss businessman. Meico's demand that its ammunition sales to AEY be directed through a third party company led Trebicka, who worked as a sub-contractor on this deal, to believe this was being done to provide a mechanism by which corrupt Albanian officials could extract kick-backs. Knowing of Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu's unexplained accumulation of wealth and his affiliation with known criminals, it was natural for me to suspect there could be substance to Trebicka's allegations.

    You should also be aware that recently, a journalist for a well known foreign newspaper interviewed Fatmir Mediu at his office in Tirana where he questioned Mediu about NATO and other issues. Mediu was shocked when the journalist began asking questions about Albania's illegal shipment of Chinese ammunition to Afghanistan. The journalist was accompanied by a local video photographer who he hired to record the interview, so any recorded data that was produced should be considered property of the journalist and his newspaper. During the interview, when Mediu was first confronted about the Chinese ammunition sales, he denied the entire affair; however, I am told that after Mediu was presented with irrefutable evidence of Meico's role in the transaction that Mediu subsequently may have made incriminating statements. The day after his interview with Mediu, the journalist left Albania expecting the video photographer to forward the recordings of his interview with Mediu; however, on the day of the journalist's departure, Mediu sent his goons to the video photographer's studio and without legal cause, Mediu's thugs forced themselves into the photographer's studio and confiscated his camera and computer equipment (there were witnesses to this event). This was nothing less than an obstruction of justice, an illegal trespass and an attempt to suppress free speech, all in the name of the Albanian government. Together, these criminal acts constitute a blatant assault on Albania's constitution.

    Knowing their illegal arms deal was in jeopardy of being exposed, Sali Berisha and Fatmir Mediu orchestrated a charade to "donate" ammunition to Afghanistan and Iraq. This appears to be little more than a highly transparent attempt to divert attention from efforts to defraud the Albanian and American governments while simultaneously trying to curry favor with the Bush administration. But one of the most heinous aspects of this grand deception is that proceeds from these munitions sales - potentially worth tens of millions of dollars if negotiated through appropriate U.S./NATO structures - could be used to build Albanian schools or supply desperately needed medical equipment for Albanian hospitals. Instead, Berisha and Mediu may have conspired to use these Albanian military stockpiles to buy their way out of trouble that could threaten their political lives, and this maneuver should be viewed as another in the string of crimes perpetrated by corrupt officials of the Berisha government.

    In my possession is a copy of an email from Kosta Trebicka that provides an outline of the events related to this matter. I also have copies of emails between Trebicka and AEY President Diveroli and there is a copy of a May 9 email from Meico Director Pinari to AEY about an ammunition pickup at Rinas Airport that is also copied to Evdin and Trebicka, thereby establishing a link to Evdin. Also available are copies of supporting documents I received from Trebicka including a contract between AEY and Xhoi (Trebicka's company), a USG purchase order to AEY and a transcript of what Trebicka represents is a telephone conversation between Diveroli and him. I have sound files of the Diveroli-Trebicka conversation, and I can confirm that it is Trebicka's voice on the recording; however, I cannot verify Diveroli's voice, but this can be easily resolved. Among the statements alleged to have been made by Diveroli during this conversation: "Pinari is either a mafia guy or working for the mafia"; "Pinari needs a guy like Henry (the President of Evdin) in the middle to take care of him and his buddies (Berisha and Mediu)"; "this deal kept going higher to the prime minister (Berisha) and his son." Should you express an interest in reviewing this information with the intention of determining if there is a case for indictment, the information can be forwarded to you upon request.

    I am requesting your cooperation in notifying me within two days of your receipt of this message of your intentions to pursue an investigation of this matter. If during this time period I do not hear from you with either an affirmative or negative response, or if you do not, at a minimum, indicate to me that you need more time to review the matter and/or if you do not request additional information, I will assume it is because you decided to ignore this case entirely and will proceed accordingly.

    When you accepted the position of Prosecutor General you stated that you would remain independent in your deliberations. Now is the time to show the people of Albania you stand behind your words by taking action against those who have committed crimes regardless of their position or party affiliation.

    Respectfully,

    Gary Q. Kokalari


    October 10, 2007

    The Hon. Theodori Sollaku
    Attorney General
    Republic of Albania
    Tirana, Albania


    Your Honor:

    I have been in communication with Mr. Kosta Trebicka, the President of Xhoi, Ltd., about his allegations concerning a U.S. government contract to purchase ammunition for shipment to Afghanistan and the portion of this contract that is being supplied with ammunition from Albania's surplus stockpiles. Mr. Trebicka informed me that he served as a sub-contractor on this transaction; therefore, this has given him the opportunity to interface with various parties to this deal including the President of AEY, the U.S.-based contractor.
    Sollaku speaking in a television show with Berisha's photo in the background
    Although I am not in a position to verify all of Mr. Trebicka's claims, the information he has supplied appears serious enough to bring this matter to your attention for further investigation. Information and allegations about this matter follow.

    AEY Inc., a Miami-based company, is in the scrap metal/recycling business and also maintains an ATF license enabling it to transact business in firearms and ammunition. The president of AEY is Efraim Diveroli who I believe is a U.S. citizen. AEY was recently awarded a $300 million contract by the U.S. government to supply munitions for the Afghan army ( Defense Industry ), and attached is a copy of part of the purchase order that I received from Mr. Trebicka.

    As background, due to the history of Russian involvement in Afghanistan, the Afghan military is still heavily dependent on Russian designed arms. For instance, the Afghan army uses AK-47s that obviously require Russian ammunition, and a portion of AEY's contract is being sourced from surplus ammunition in Albanian stockpiles. It is my understanding these stockpiles were originally manufactured in China to Russian specifications with Chinese marked packaging and given to Albania during the period when there were close ties between China and communist Albania. For this reason, Ephraim Diveroli, AEY's President, contacted Meico ( http://www.mod.gov.al/eng/industria/meico.asp ), the division of Albania's Ministry of Defense responsible for arms exports, to source all or a portion of its contract in Albania.

    According to Mr. Trebicka, upon contacting Ylli Pinari, Meico's Director, Diveroli was informed that the munitions would have to be purchased from Meico's appointed agent, Evdin, a Cyprus-based company that I understand is owned by a Swiss businessman who Mr. Trebicka identified as Henri Tomei (possibly known to Interpol), but I have not confirmed this. It is my understanding Edvin's only role in this transaction was to invoice AEY and in turn pay Meico for the munitions. According to Trebicka, Evdin did not handle the shipment and had no other involvement in the transaction, yet, the price mark-up from Meico to Evdin was almost 100%. Pinari reports to Fatmir Mediu, Albania's Minister of Defense, and perhaps the Evdin relationship is appropriate and has been disclosed by the Albanian government. If not, then there may be a concern that an intermediary is being used as a conduit so that the mark-up in price can be used to compensate government officials which, based on an alleged conversation between Diveroli and Trebicka, could be suspected to include Mediu and Prime Minister Sali Berisha. It should be noted that Trebicka thinks it is possible the entire $300 million contract could be sourced in Albania which, assuming similar metrics, opens the possibility that this deal could result in well over $100 million in pure profit that could be split among Evdin and other parties.

    An article from The Telegraph speculated that the U.S. is helping the Afghan army to stockpile Russian weapons just in case a new administration prompts a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. I am told the deal with Russia never materialized because the U.S. did not want to be seen making military purchases from the Russians, but based on the almost identical size of the AEY contract, the contract that was awarded to AEY looks like it may be serving as the replacement deal.

    Because of the Chinese markings and the excessive weight of the old packaging (which would have significantly increased shipping costs to Afghanistan), AEY had to hire a company to repackage the munitions. For this reason, AEY contracted with Xhoi Ltd. (contract attached), an Albanian company engaged in the the packaging business that is owned and operated by Kosta Trebicka. After Xhoi had commenced work on the project, Trebicka had learned, as a result of invoices he reviewed at the American Bank of Albania, that ammunition was being bought by Evdin from Meico for $22 per 1,000 rounds and then sold to AEY for $40/1,000. Upon hearing this, Diveroli became very disturbed because Evdin, a company it appears the Albanian government was requiring him to work with as an intermediary, was adding to the cost of the transaction.

    Trebicka claims that Diveroli protested to Pinari about Evdin's forced presence in the deal and the inflated pricing, and he requested an audience with Defense Minister Mediu. According to Trebicka, Diveroli's request was denied, and he was later taken to a meeting with Pinari, Mihal Delijorgji and a third unidentified man, and at that meeting it was supposedly suggested that if Diveroli did not cooperate with Evdin, his contract might be in jeopardy. I understand that Delijorgji is in some circles described as a businessman with ties to Meico, but others have alleged that he has a criminal record in Albania, which you can easily verify. Later, possibly in an attempt to intimidate him, Trebicka informed me that Pinari told him to keep his mouth closed because the unidentified third man was Shkelzen Berisha, the son of Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

    According to Trebicka, this episode prompted Diveroli to contact the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, and as a result, a meeting was set up at the Tirana Sheraton that included Diveroli, Trebicka, Robert Newsome, a diplomat in the Embassy, Mr. Meyer, who I believe is the Embassy's military attache, and an Albanian woman who is an Embassy employee . When Diveroli told them his story, supposedly, Newsome told Diveroli he had nothing to worry about, they have excellent relations with the Albanian government, and he promised to discuss the matter with the Ministry of Defense. Trebicka informed me that subsequent to that meeting, Diveroli and he spoke with Newsome by telephone, and Newsome told them he did not want to create any problems with the Albanian government and the Embassy could not interfere. Despite what may be indifference on the part of these Embassy officials, if there is any truth to these claims, those officials have an obligation to report such information to the appropriate U.S. authorities, and if they did not or if the Embassy attempts to suppress this information this may be a violation of various U.S. statutes.

    I can tell you from my own experience in my dealings with DOS and our Embassy in Albania (and other USG offices for that matter), that because of Albania's cooperation with bigger picture issues like the war on terror and regional stability, the U.S. government has been all too willing to look the other way when it comes to the corrupt practices of Albanian government officials. A perfect example is the case of former Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano who also cooperated with the U.S. by sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the very specific information I provided USG about what I maintain was an illegal bank account held by Nano at Credit Suisse - which was disclosed to me by a Credit Suisse employee - USG refused to act on this information. However, one thing different about this situation is that, in addition to possible corrupt practices by Albanian government officials, it may also involve a scheme to defraud U.S. tax payers because what appears to be an extremely large and unnecessary layer of payment - required as a result of Meico's insertion of Evdin - is being underwritten by the U.S. government.

    Below is a copy of an email from Kosta Trebicka that responds to my questions that will give you an outline of the events related to this matter. There are also copies of emails between Trebicka and Diveroli and there is a copy of a May 9 email from Pinari to AEY about an ammunition pickup at Rinas Airport that is also copied to Evdin and Trebicka, thereby establishing a link to Evdin. Also attached are copies of supporting documents I received from Mr. Trebicka including a contract between AEY and Xhoi, a USG purchase order to AEY and a transcript of what Trebicka represents is a telephone conversation between Diveroli and him. Sound files of the conversation recorded by Trebicka are attached, and I am confident that it is Trebicka's voice on the recording; however, I cannot verify Diveroli's voice because I have never spoken with him. Among the statements made by Diveroli (I assume this to be Diveroli based on Trebicka's representations) during this conversation: "Pinari is either a mafia guy or working for the mafia"; "Pinari needs a guy like Henri (Tomei/Evdin) in the middle to take care of him and his buddies"; "this deal kept going higher to the prime minister and his son."

    You should be aware that I know Fatmir Mediu, we have had various dealings over the years, and in fall 2006, I publicly accused him of engaging in corrupt practices. A copy of an open letter I sent to Mediu making these allegations can be viewed at ACLIS . This information was also shared with key U.S. officials involved with Albania including DOS, FBI, the CIA and several members of Congress. Mediu made a public show of refuting my claims by appearing on an Albanian TV station to basically say, "I'm not a crook." Despite Mediu's claims that the referenced "gifts" he received have little value and his claim that he gave the watches to a member of the media, to my knowledge, they have never been appraised by an independent, qualified appraiser.

    I understand that since the first shipment was completed by AEY with Xhoi handling the packaging, other shipments have been made. It is further my understanding that after the first shipment, Xhoi was squeezed out of the deal and was replaced by Meico with a company controlled by Mr. Delijorgji.

    You also should be aware that Mr. Trebicka brought this matter to my attention because, besides having met me in the past, I have been involved in efforts to expose corrupt government officials in both the current and former governments, as you may be aware. I have also exposed improprieties in Albania's telecom sector.

    In my opinion, among the issues that should be investigated in conjunction with this matter:

    1. Is the U.S. Government being overcharged for the ammunition purchased in Albania? Given the financial support the U.S. government has given to Albania, the Albanian government has an obligation to make sure that it does not take advantage of U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for the ammunition purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense. According to one source, the going rate in Eastern Europe and Russia for surplus ammunition for AK-47s is less than $22 per thousand rounds. If your office confirms wrongdoing, such findings should immediately be turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee.

    2. Has Meico appointed Evdin or any other company as an intermediary in this transaction? If so, why? Has the President, Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and/or members of Parliament been made aware of or have they approved this relationship? Does Evdin have any relationship with Fatmir Mediu, Ylli Pinari, Mihal Delijorgji, Sali Berisha or Shkelzen Berisha? In order to confirm if any relationships exist, your office should review wire transfers or other money transfers that may have taken place among MOD, Meico, Evdin, AEY, and possibly some of the individuals who are alleged to be implicated in this affair.

    3. Is it Efraim Diveroli's voice on the recording made by Kosta Trebicka? If so, the allegations contained in the recording must be fully investigated and Diveroli should be called for questioning.

    4. Your office should meet with Kosta Trebicka to discuss the basis for his allegations.

    You should be aware that this information has also been submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense and several members of Congress. You should also be aware that XXXXXX (and possibly another major media organization) is investigating arms sales from Eastern European countries (including Albania) to the Middle East, and the first story related to these investigations appeared in XXXXXXXX. You should also be aware that regardless of the objectives of the Department of State, if the allegations contained herein have any basis in fact, there can be no doubt the American and Albanian public would demand full disclosure, and any U.S. or Albanian government officials that may ultimately review this matter should take this into consideration.

    Please feel free to contact me if you should have any questions or if I can be of assistance.

    Thank you.

    Respectfully,

    Gary Q. Kokalari

ACL 18 March, 2008

 
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