Albania Top Destination for “Suspicious Transfers” from Italy – Exit
Albania was a destination of choice for receiving “suspicious transactions” from Italy in the first half of 2021, according to the Italian Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).
In the first half of the year, the UIF received some 70,157 suspicious transfer reports, an increase of 32.5% over the previous year. The most significant increase observed concerns money transfers which have tripled.
Of all the countries in the world, the majority went to Albania, Morocco, Romania and Senegal. These accounted for almost 40% of all reports.
Most of these transfers came from Lombardy, Lazio, Emilia Romagna and Sicily.
It is estimated that up to 700 million euros of illicit funds enter Albania each year. This is channeled into the country mainly through criminal activity, corruption and tax evasion. In the last three years, it is estimated that around 1.6 billion euros have been laundered in the construction sector in Albania.
New construction flourished in Tirana, especially after 2015. Comparing the figures for 2015 and 2020, a multiplied by 5 in the overall built area and local and central authorities issued permits can be noted.
A similar increase was seen in 2020, although all other sectors of the economy suffered losses. Only the construction and real estate sectors recorded growth during the pandemic.
The increase in the overall land area has put an end to construction projects and the overall growth of the sector does not reflect the economic development and housing demand of the country.
Due to money laundering in the construction industry, apartment prices have risen 70% over the past four years, putting the industry in danger of collapsing. The construction bubble is likely to burst, lowering apartment prices by around 50% in about 10 years.
The Council of Europe MONEYVAL noted that the authorities had not taken significant measures to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. They found that some positive steps had been taken, but that there were still a significant number of limitations, including a lack of prosecutions, convictions and deterrents.
“Limited steps have been taken to improve compliance with the other recommendations, but gaps remain. Albania is encouraged to continue its efforts to address the remaining gaps. “
the US Department of State had similar conclusions in its report on the international drug control strategy released this year. He noted that while the government redoubles its efforts to combat drug cultivation and trafficking, weak rule of law and corruption hamper efforts. In addition, criminal gangs have continued to launder drug money in the country.
He also found that Albania was a “major destination for money laundering” in 2020. The State Department said that the Albanian government had made “no significant progress in the fight against money laundering and crimes financial in 2020 ”.
This means that the country remains vulnerable to money laundering due to corruption, weak legal and government institutions and the prevalence of organized crime networks.
The country’s informal economy and large remittances from abroad also contribute to the problem.
In 2020, Albania was downgraded to the Financial Action Task Force gray list. The list includes countries that have failed, despite warnings, to effectively tackle money laundering and financial crime.
A review of the list took place at the beginning of the summer, but Albania was not reclassified.