Former Durres Mayor Dako and family banned entry to US under corruption accusations

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 31, 2019 08:02

Former Durres Mayor Dako and family banned entry to US under corruption accusations

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  • According to US law, when the Secretary of State has credible information that a foreign official is involved in major corruption or human rights violations, he and his close family are barred from entering the United States.

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TIRANA, July 30 – The US State Department banned Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako and his family members from entering the United States on Tuesday. 

The decision, taken by the Secretary of State, says that Dako is allegedly involved in major corruption cases in the country. 

According to US law, when the Secretary of State has credible information that a foreign official is involved in major corruption or human rights violations, he and his close family are barred from entering the United States.

The law also entitles the Secretary of State to make the decision public, or communicate it privately to the official concerned. According to today’s announcement, Vangjush Dako, his wife Alba Dako, son Julio Dako and his daughter Kejsi Dako are not allowed to enter the US.

Tuesday’s ruling, according to a State Department announcement, is a strong signal that the United States is committed to fighting corruption elsewhere in the world.

With this decision, Dako becomes the third official from Albania along with Adriatic Lllalla and Tom Doshi to be banned from entering the United States.

The law banning foreign officials from entering the US is one of the tools available to the US administration to combat corruption and human rights abuses by foreign officials. Unlike visa laws, where in the case of refusal the decision is confidential, the law designating foreign officials as ineligible to enter the United States is not confidential and may be made public.

The law dates back to 2008, when Congress sought to identify and declare ineligible to enter the US foreign officials involved in corrupt affairs to exploit their countries’ natural resources.

In 2012, Congress expanded the scope of the ban, including the term “major corruption cases,” and clarified that disclosure to relevant individuals could be made public or kept private.

The first case that the State Department used this law was in February 2018, when it banned former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla from entering the United States.

State Department reports do not mention which specific cases these officials are dealing with.

In the past, local media has highlighted the prosecution’s investigation of Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako, who is alleged to have kept in touch with members of an organized crime group known as the “Avdylaj” group, allegedly involved in vote rigging in support of Dako during the 2017 parliamentary elections.

The wiretapped phone conversations according to the prosecution file also show a long-standing relationship between Dako and the Avdylaj brothers, whose contribution to the elections appears to have been rewarded with access to some key institutions in Durres. 

Dako has denied the allegations.

During a debate in parliament on the case, Prime Minister Edi Rama defended Dako, calling the wiretaps “coffee gossip.” 

Although Dako didn’t run in the last local elections on June 30, he hasn’t taken responsibility for the allegations against him.

Until Tuesday evening, the ruling majority made no reaction to the US State Department’s decision concerning Dako. 

Whereas Democrat Party leader Lulzim Basha said in a Facebook post that “it is good news that the United States of America has declared Vangjush Dako non grata for engaging in major corruption cases.It is bad news that Vangjush Dako has not come out still to justice for none of those cases.”

The former mayor has been one of the opposition’s longest-running names for corruption and links to criminal world characters. Even in his reaction on Tuesday, Basha wrote that “Vangjush Dako is not just a corrupt politician. He is part of organized crime, in collaboration with which he stole elections on behalf of Edi Rama’s government. In return, Vangjush Dako handed over the economic and political control of the Municipality of Durres to organized crime. It is bad news that Vangjush Dako has as a shield of justice the prime minister of the country, Edi Rama,” said Basha, adding that “the great acts of corruption were done under the protection, with the knowledge and benefit of Edi Rama. It is Edi Rama who defends Vangjush Daku or as his friends call him, Edi Rama’s dirty money machine.” 

From 2017 to date there are around 170 officials and former Albanian officials who have been refused visas by the US Embassy. Their names have not been made public. 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 31, 2019 08:02