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BIRN: Albania's debts for arbitration trials increase to 156 million euros
Albanian taxpayers are expected to pay at least 156 million euros as a result of the decisions of the arbitration courts for the contractual violations of the Albanian government against foreign companies, according to a report of the Ministry of Finance for 2021. The latest estimate is significantly more higher than that of 2020, in which damages were calculated at 109 million euros. The increase is due to the loss of new trials, while the number of claimants has increased.
The vast majority of losses are related to two single lawsuits, that of the Italian businessman, Francesco Becchetti, as well as the lawsuit for the undertaking contract for the construction of the Tirana-Elbasan highway by the Copri and Actor consortium. Becchetti, who had a series of controversial concession contracts, including one for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Kalivac and a waste treatment contract with the socialist government of former prime minister Fatos Nano, won a trial with 108 million euros in compensation. The Copri Actor Consortium won a trial in the amount of 38 million euros.
TIA sh.pk, the Tirana airport concession company, which controversially won an extension of the concession term from Edi Rama's government, has sued the Albanian government for unknown reasons.
Courts of Arbitration were established decades ago to protect investors from arbitrary actions by governments of countries where domestic courts have a bad reputation. But these courts are also notorious for maintaining secrecy, making it nearly impossible for taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill to learn what their governments have done that have been punished and for what specific reasons private companies have benefited. this money.
Albania has faced many cases in arbitration courts where in some cases it has won and in some other cases it has lost. But even in the cases where he won, this did not come without a cost. The report of the Ministry of Finance shows how, while Becchet's bill is 108 million euros, Albania has to pay another 3 million euros in costs of the court process and the costs of the lawyers who represented the state. Prime Minister Edi Rama's government unsuccessfully tried to cancel the given decision by starting an additional procedure; the additional procedure itself cost almost half a million euros for the law firm.
Although the decisions are final, the Albanian government has not paid these obligations until the date of the report, i.e. until 2021.
In one case in the past, when the government of former Prime Minister Sali Berisha backed out of an agreement negotiated by the previous government with the American company General Electric, the latter won $25 million in arbitration and collected the money by seizing Albania's revenues. from Eurocontrol, the European air traffic monitoring network, from which Albania has income for the traffic management service of air overpasses over the country's territory. BIRN