'Private Banks Have Illegally Profited Hundreds of Millions of Lek'
Albanian Daily News
Published August 11, 2016

Shocking details have emerged from a High State Audit report on how private banks and the Central Bank of Albania have removed from circulation damaged banknotes in the period between 2010 and 2014. Investigations first started after the reported robbery in July 2014, but findings were even worse, according to Top Channel.

Conclusions are listed in a secret report, read by Top Channel thanks to confidential sources. It shows that all the schemes have been functioning illegally, practically robbing citizens and state budged out of hundreds of millions of Leks.

Until September 2013 based on an approved legal base, private banks would collect damaged banknotes refunding 80 percent of the value, and then hand them over to the Central Bank with the same ratio of refunding. But the report found that this rule has been broken as the Central Bank has bought the banknotes paying 100 percent of their value.

According to the High State Audit, this difference of 20 percent, which has been profited illegally by some private banks, should be a profit of the Bank of Albania to be transferred to the state budget.

HSA discovered that during January 2010-July 2014 period, 2.71 billion Leks have been changed through this scheme generating an unfair profit for banks of 542 million Leks, or 4 million Euros.

Considered one of the most shocking audits of latest years, the report has been delivered to the Supervisory Council of the Bank of Albania. Top Channel learned that the Bank of Albania has fiercely opposed findings presented there.

But, besides a clash between the two, this document is expected to have consequences even between higher state institutions, on the way how the financial system works and how it is governed, because the High State Audit is obliged by law to inform Parliament about it, the Parliamentary Committee of Economy respectively.

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