Former MPs, mayors and directors received millions of euros from agricultural grants of development

27/12/2023 21:34

Investigative program Fiks Fare followed tonight the denunciations about the abuses with agricultural grants funds, where millions of euros went into the hands of politicians, former politicians or big firms.

A day after a consultant showed in voice and image the whole scheme of how big businesses had to cheat in order to benefit from these funds, Fiks Fare stopped at the lists and businesses that have benefited from the IPARD II grants program.

The research showed that funds for rural agricultural development were given selectively. The Fiks Fare group traveled to the village of Tërfuf in Lushnje, where a beneficiary was building a modern greenhouse. Meanwhile, his neighbor a few meters away continued with the primitively built greenhouse many years ago.

“I didn’t benefit because they closed the scheme, as they say. I have 1500 chickens and 300 sheep. They gave me subsidies for sheep and fuel, I was looking for a tractor and expansion of the stable. It makes my job easier,” he said. The farmer further claimed that he has been growing sheep and livestock for 25 years. “I received some small subsidies, for those of IPARD we filled out some documents but they didn’t grant them to us” he adds, while he still has hope. “Maybe we will give it to us, we are hopeful” – he concludes.

Fiks Fare has done a research of all the lists published by the agricultural grant entity, where large companies are seen, which have been in the agricultural and livestock sector for years, while ordinary farmers are not there.

Journalists went to some of these firms that have benefited from funding. Initially, in Maminas, Shijak, near Tirana, to agrotourism “Kronos”, which has benefited an amount of 961 thousand euros from AZHBR state agency. It has erected several greenhouses, while a bar-restaurant and even a hotel has been built alongside the greenhouses. The firm “Kronos” is one of the biggest beneficiaries of tenders in Albania. They received dozens of procedures. So the money of AZHBR has gone big companies and rich owners.

Meanwhile, a few kilometers further south, in Kavaja, a greenhouse has been erected in the middle of the city. But, instead of agricultural products, in those greenhouses financed by AZHBR, there were horses. According to the documents available to “Fiks Fare”, the company that erected these greenhouses is “KAVALJON”, owned by the former mayor of the Municipality of Kavaja, Elvis Roshi, who left the ppost in 2016 during to the process of decriminalization.

The list continues with entities that have large construction firms as owners. “Coast to Coast” is owned by the construction company “Gjikuria” in Palasa, Himare. This company received about 150 thousand euros in the first call to build a hotel and resort. Meanwhile, another large construction firm, “Company Riviera”, owned by the brothers of former MP Ndue Kola, has been financed. Although it has no experience in the field of agriculture, they proposed to AZHBR the establishment of a warehouse for the collection and selection of fruits and vegetables. IPARD quickly came to their aid with 50% of the investment, offering 810,469 euros.

​ In the list of AZHBR are groups from all sides of politics. One of them is the former PSD candidate for MP Pashuk Masmalaj, who with his company “CHICKEN LAND” received 280,000 euros for setting up a dairy farm. The company “Co Casa” in Fier has benefited from a fund of 280 thousand euros for the construction of a greenhouse. The firm was founded by Mr. Arjon Muça, former MP.

Meanwhile, in Lushnje there is a warehouse of the company “Doni Fruits”. In 2021, SP deputy Erion Braçe wrote on social networks that its owner has the largest point of exports, but with great help from the government. It has been given close to 100 million new ALL, plus the building of the road from and a dedicated line for energy, plus a dedicated line for water. This company has been subsidized again by AZHBR in the amount of 924 thousand euros.

Another candidate for deputy has benefited from agricultural funds. Elton Ismaili has received from IPARD an amount of 90 thousand euros for agrotourism in Gjirokastër. The company of Mr. Armand Duka in Durrës, AIBA, which received an amount of 140 thousand euros as a grant for a manure drying plant.

After this research, Fiks Fare journalists went to the offices of AZHBR in Tirana, raising the questions about “why there are well-known personalities, ex-politicians, ex-MPs, ex-directors and big subjects in these lists”. However, none of the directors agreed to give an interview.

In response, AZHBR says that it has financed certain firms 2 or 3 times since they fulfill the conditions. To the question of why there are individuals or firms with political connections in these lists, this Agency says that each firm has signed the conflict of interest form. Fiks Fare asked him why these lists are dominated by the largest firms. Their answer was that “the selection is defined in the IPARD II program”.

And how did the companies gain support for resorts on the coast? According to them, the program does not support resorts or private villas, although some of them have received grants. Fiks Fare asked AZHBR at what stage is the IPARD program, and according to them, they have been notified in writing of the measure of suspension of the next payments, until receiving the final report of the administrative investigation of OLAF.

AZHBR sent a long list where dozens of firms were found to be in violation. In the list is the entity “Kavaljon”, owned by Elvis Roshi. Also, the “Coast to Coast” company in Palasa must return part of the money. In total, 80 firms and entities were found to be in violation. These firms must return an amount of 1.5 million euros. Some of the firms have returned the money, while some others have opened court proceedings.


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