Albania Central Bank Governor Arrested Over Theft Of $7 Million From Bank Vaults

Albania Central Bank Governor Arrested Over Theft Of $7 Million From Bank Vaults (ZeroHedge, Sep 9, 2014):

About a month ago we mocked the Albanian central bank when reports emerged that “two employees” had been charged with the theft of some $6.6 million in cash from the bank’s vaults. Specifically, back in July the arrests come five weeks after a worker at the central bank admitted to stealing money over the course of four years, taking new bank notes printed in Switzerland when they arrived at his workplace and replacing them with old books. As it turns out, since there is a central bank involved, there is once again more than meets the eye, and the story has since mutated into something far more grotesque than even we could imagine, with news coming out late last week and over the weekend that not only was the theft by “two employees” a misdirection, but that the guilty party was none other than the Albanian version of Janet Yellen, the governor of the central bank himself Ardian Fullani.

From Reuters:

Albania’s central bank governor Ardian Fullani was arrested on Friday evening in his office on charges of abuse of office over the theft of 713 million lek (6.63 million US dollar) from the bank’s vaults, the prosecutor’s office told Reuters.

Fullani had refused to step down despite protests by citizens who started a petition to demand his dismissal. He had won a confidence vote in the supervisory board by a landslide. Fullani is the 17th bank employee to be arrested in the case.

Guess he has shared quite a bit of the nearly $7 million in CTRL-P proceeds with the supervisory board then. However, kickbacks or not, the disgraced money printer will find it next to impossible to print his way out of trouble now that the board appears to have changed its mind for whatever reason:

Albania’s central bank board has proposed to parliament that governor Ardian Fullani be sacked after his arrest in connection with the theft of 713 million lek ($6.63 million) from the bank’s vaults by an employee, the board said on Sunday.

Fullani’s fellow board members argued he had “violated ethical rules and heavily damaged the interests of the Bank of Albania”.

“We believe the absence of the governor does not create an institutional vacuum in the management of the institution since the law clearly enables the first deputy governor to take over the governor’s competences,” the board statement said.

But they had not problems with voting for Fullani a month ago: did the hush money kickbacks get clawed back?

Elisabeta Gjoni, the first deputy governor, will now be the acting governor.

Fullani was arrested on Friday evening on charges of “abuse of office” and the bank’s inspector general, Elivar Golemi, was held too, the 19th person at the bank to be prosecuted over the theft.

The prosecutor’s office said Fullani had failed to plug gaps in oversight at the treasury due to a lack of personnel and regulations, all of which had made the theft possible. He risks a seven-year jail sentence if convicted. A court in the capital Tirana ruled on Sunday that he should await trial in jail.

And this is where it gets hilarious:

Maksim Haxhia, Fullani’s lawyer who met him in court on Sunday, told Reuters Fullani declared himself “absolutely innocent” of the charges.

Haxhia said the charge was a “dangerous precedent” and the order to await trial in jail was so tough it was “ridiculous”.

“The head of an institution can never be held responsible when someone else has admitted a crime. We have an actual person admitting it. Why should the top director pay?,” Haxhia said.  “This is a very dangerous precedent,” he told Reuters by phone.

Well, there is the open question of how much the scapegoat “admitting” to the crime was paid by the central bank head in order to take all the blame.

But we agree: it truly set a dangerous precedent when suddenly it becomes painfully obvious that even central bankers are subject to the same rules and regulations as everyone else.

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