Albanian businessman’s assets seized, drug links suspected

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian prosecutors on Monday said they had seized vast assets belonging to a businessman and a media mogul suspected of building his empire with profits from drug trafficking.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Organized Crime, known as SPAK by acronym in Albanian, said assets ranging from apartments to land, a forest, vehicles including a Rolls Royce, and two television stations, RTV Ora and Channel One, were seized by the authorities based on “reasonable doubt, supported by evidence,” that Ylli Ndroqi, also known as Xhemal Pasmaciu, “has been involved in criminal activity.”

Ndroqi was seen going to a police station Monday, but has not been detained.

Earlier, Ndroqi was arrested in Turkey and Italy because of suspicions he belonged to criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking, but he was released on both occasions.

Prosecutors said that the assets belonging to Ndroqi and his family stemmed from “his involvement in criminal activity” and were “unjustified.”

Ndroqi’s lawyers said they would appeal the seizures, which Ndroqi tied to his legal dispute with the mayor of Tirana, the Albanian capital.

“All his wealth has been legally created, based on his activity, business and bank loans,” said Ndroqi’s lawyer, Rei Beqiraj. “He believes this is political pressure coming after the other lawsuit he has with Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj.”

Ndroqi sued Veliaj for defamation, after the mayor accused staff members at Ndroqi’s media holdings of corruption. Ndroqi says his employees are under attack because they have exposed corruption cases involving public officials.

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