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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Falsification of documents and refusal to submit asset declaration by Judge Gjoni - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Falsification of documents and refusal to submit asset declaration by Judge Gjoni

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Introduction

On 2 May 2014, the Prosecutor’s Office initiated criminal proceeding no. 1098 against Gjin Gjoni, judge of the Tirana Court of Appeal, and his wife, Elona Çaushi, for falsification of documents and refusal to submit an asset declaration, on the basis of a denunciation by the High Inspectorate of Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflict of Interests (HIDAACI) (see here).

Country
Albania
Sector
Public institutions
Offence
Declaration and audit of assets and financial liabilities
Phase
Investigation

Description of the case

On 2 May 2014, the Prosecutor’s Office initiated criminal proceeding no. 1098 against Gjin Gjoni, judge of the Tirana Court of Appeal, and his wife, Elona Çaushi, for falsification of documents and refusal to submit an asset declaration, on the basis of a denunciation by the High Inspectorate of Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflict of Interests (HIDAACI) (see here).

At the time when the criminal proceedings were initiated, Gjoni held several positions: he sat on the High Council of Justice (HCJ), he sat on the board of the School of Magistrates, he was vice-chair of the National Judicial Conference and he was a member of the Electoral College (see here and here).

In the HIDAACI denunciation, Gjoni was also accused of corruption and concealing a criminal offence, but the prosecution did not file criminal charges (see here and here). Other public notaries suspected of falsifying documents were also part of the denunciation.

HIDAACI found discrepancies between the documentation submitted by the subject in the asset declaration and the official data provided by state authorities. The discrepancy pointed to an evasion of legal liability set forth by the legislation on concealment and false declaration to the amount of approximately €2.6 million. According to media reports and evidence found by HIDDACI, Judge Gjoni had been a partner in three business companies, the shares of which he transferred to his wife, Elona Caushi. At the end of 2014, his wife was the owner of six businesses, including Albanian Duty Free Distribution. The company has capital of ALL159,630,000 (€1.28 million), according to the Business Registration Centre.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Elbasan conducted investigations and sent letters rogatory to the respective French and German authorities (see here). In the meantime, the Minister for Justice submitted a request to the HCJ to suspend Gjoni as a member, but the request was rejected.

In February 2015, the Prosecutor’s Office decided to extend the time limits for the investigations on the grounds that it was awaiting the arrival of responses to letters rogatory seeking judicial assistance from Germany and France. The decision was challenged by the subject. The Elbasan District Court in its decision no. 1482 set a deadline of 12 February 2015 for the investigations. The prosecution appealed the court’s decision to the Durrës District Court of Appeal, which decided on 17 March 2015 to leave the investigation closed, arguing that "the fact does not exist" and making the case res judicata. The decision was also upheld by the Supreme Court, which Gjoni has argued nullifies any new investigations against him and his wife (see here, here and here).

On 20 April 2015, the decision of the Elbasan District Prosecutor’s Office stipulated the dismissal of the criminal case against Judge Gjoni and his wife (based on Article 328/1/f of the Criminal Procedure Code). The case remained under investigation without charges because of the need for other investigatory actions requiring judicial assistance from the competent authorities in Germany and France (see here).

Investigation no. 1098, launched in 2014 by the Elbasan District