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"A criminal organization"/ How the properties of thousands of Albanians are being taken without their knowledge

2023-12-01 20:07:00, Denoncim CNA

"A criminal organization"/ How the properties of thousands of

Pëllumb Mema's loan file fell into my hands by chance. After reading all the history I decided to contact him. I introduced myself and told him I was writing about auctions of foreclosed properties as a result of defaulting on loans.

- How many loans did you get? - I asked him.

- I received 650,000 ALL in 2010 from NOA, of which I paid off 600,000, but to close it completely I had to pay another 550,000 ALL - he answered.

- Do you know that they took the house? - I told.

- What do you say - he told me - how can the house be taken for an obligation of 500,000 Lek and without notifying me. All the more that I have made agreements with creditors.

I handed him the updated card of his residence. The private house of 182.4 square meters, on Gjergj Legisi street in Laprakë, on October 24 of this year was registered in the ownership of Micro Credit Albania for the value of 1 lek. I was stunned.

"Not likely. It must be some mistake" - he repeated. The pigeon had no idea that his apartment had been taken, and he is not alone in this predicament.

 

"A criminal organization"/ How the properties of thousands of
Card showing the alienation of Mr. Mema's apartment for the value of 1 lek

 

A massive scheme

Besnik Serjani lives in the brewery area. Some time ago he received a loan from Micro Credit Albania. In January of last year, a seizure order was issued for his loan, which at that time had an obligation of 230,000 ALL.

-I got a loan there at Treni. I paid that money 10 times - he told me.

- Do you have any property? - I asked him.

- I have a 70 meter plot on Hamdi Pepo street - he answered me.

- On September 8, your land was registered in the ownership of Micro Credit Albania - I told him.   

- What will this tell me? - he asked me back.

- They took the land, I answered.

- How did they take me? I made an agreement with them and paid 50,000 lek per month. What should I do, who should I meet about this, where should I go? - he asked me repeatedly.  

 

"A criminal organization"/ How the properties of thousands of
Besnik Serjani's 70 meter plot of land was put up for sale for 390 thousand Lek, then it became the property of MCA for the value of 1 Lek

 

Pëllumb Mema and Besnik Serjani are just two of the victims of a massive scheme, which has alienated and continues to alienate the ownership titles for thousands of real estates due to minimal obligations for consumer loans.

In Dibër, a fellow villager of the Minister of Justice Ulsi Manja, they took his house and 1,500 square meters of land for 36,000 ALL. The assets have all ended up in the ownership of Micro Credit Albania. And the vast majority of them were executed for consumer loans, where the value of the obligation was often from 100 to 500 thousand ALL.

The chain of alienation

But how did Micro Credit Albania get hold of thousands of real estate? The story begins in 2015. At that time, the Bank of Albania changed the loan regulation, opening the way for the sale of bad loans that were in banks.

Immediately after this change, bad debt companies such as Tranzit, Final or Microcredit were born. All three of these companies bought large portfolios of bad loans from banks and other financial institutions like Noa, at a price that fluctuates around 8 to 10 percent of the value of the outstanding liability.

The approximate data show that over 100,000 bad loans were sold in Albania during these years. Kapitali.al has tracked that at least 3,000 of them have ended up in property title executions. The vast majority of them are consumer loans with small amounts owed. So citizens' properties worth tens of millions of Lek have been taken for a loan of 100 thousand Lek.

Executions

After buying the loans from the banks, Micro Credit has charged other costs on the debtors. Some of them have entered into agreements and paid additional money in installments, but for many the costs have increased so much that the loan never ends. Then the property enforcement mechanism begins.

Albanian law stipulates that after the issuance of the order by the court and the executive execution, the seized property is auctioned for three rounds. In the first auction, the property is sold at a price of 80 percent of the value determined by private appraisers. But in the third auction it ends up with 10 percent.

If no buyer appears in the third auction, then the property becomes the property of the creditor, which in this case it is

A triple tango

According to the documents that Kapitali.al was able to see, almost all enforcement procedures were carried out by two bailiffs. The first is Fatos Alimadhi, who issued the seizure orders, while the second executor is Rigels Bejko, who announced the auctions, which then ended in the registration of the properties for the account of Micro Credit.  

Many of those who have lost their assets claim that they were not notified of the auctions at all. But Mr. Bejko says that he has implemented all the requirements provided by the law.

"For all auctions, postings have been made in the City Hall. "Debtors who claim that they were not notified have the right to go to court and request the invalidity of enforcement actions," says Bejko.

According to him, debtors always have the possibility to recover the property if they repay the obligations. "Our goal is not to cause social costs. The debtors can come at any time to take back the properties, if they repay the obligation," he continues.

And Mr. Bejko says that he guarantees this, despite the fact that the title deeds do not belong to his executive studio, but to the company Micro Credit Albania.

Organization...

Micro Credit Albania is a controversial company. Founded in May 2014, the company is 100 percent owned by Elda Ibro. But the mastermind behind the company, for many, is her husband, Olsi Ibro.    

In February 2020, the Ministry of Justice forwarded to the General Prosecutor a 700-page report on a network of companies in the field of debt collection.

In the report, the former minister Etilda Gjonaj asked Olsian Celes to prosecute for the offense of fraud with serious consequences, abuse of office and misappropriation of state office for the companies Micro Credit Albania, Albanian Debt Consulting Agency, the enforcement company ZiG, the legal entity FS and the Flash legal entity.

In the file, the Minister of Justice also mentioned the names behind these companies, the most important of which are Olsi Ibro, Elda Ibro, Arben Meskuti, Andis Gjoka, Ernela Cuberi, Indrit Cuberi and many others. According to the file, these persons had set up a large criminal scheme in the form of a structured organization extorting thousands of Albanian citizens through fraud and blackmail.

What happened almost 4 years after the report? Practically nothing. Now the same company, reported by the Ministry of Justice as a criminal organization, is already alienating thousands of citizens' properties. Without their knowledge. But with the full knowledge of the Bank of Albania, the government and SPAK./ Kapitali.al

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