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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Agricultural subsidies (Lekaj and others) - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Agricultural subsidies (Lekaj and others)

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Introduction

On 10 July 2018, the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo charged Pal Lekaj, former mayor of Gjakova, and other municipal officials with abuse of their official position or authority in the distribution of subsidies to farmers in Gjakova. Estimated subsidies of €631,671.82 were earmarked for distribution to roughly 3,000 farmers through the company Union-VL. Union-VL was not chosen through an open call but in an “arbitrary” way, and approximately 40 per cent of the farmers are suspected not to have received their entitled subsidies.

Country
Kosovo
Sector
Agriculture
Offence
Abuse of official position or authority
Phase
1st instance procedure

Description of the case

On 10 July 2018, the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo charged Pal Lekaj, former mayor of Gjakova, and other municipal officials with abuse of their official position or authority in the distribution of subsidies to farmers in Gjakova. Estimated subsidies of €631,671.82 were earmarked for distribution to roughly 3,000 farmers through the company Union-VL. Union-VL was not chosen through an open call but in an “arbitrary” way, and approximately 40 per cent of the farmers are suspected not to have received their entitled subsidies.

The prosecution also alleges that Lekaj and other officials took additional municipal funds and transferred them to the Union-VL account, causing harm to the municipality and to the farmers who did not receive subsidies.

In addition, the subsidies were allegedly authorised by the accused without any supervision of their actual payment to farmers. Moreover, there was no contract with Union-VL. However, the chairs and members of the committees in charge of overseeing the distribution of the subsidies have allegedly compiled reports stating that the distribution was done correctly.

The farmers who did not receive their subsidies are members of an economically vulnerable group, which has been discriminated against by the defendants’ actions in the case.