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Politike

BIRN: Sejko evades responsibility for the microcredit fraud scheme

BIRN: Sejko evades responsibility for the microcredit fraud scheme

Governor Gent Sejko was summoned to a hearing in the Parliamentary Committee for Economy and Finance at the request of opposition MPs, where he denied his responsibilities for the microcredit scandal.

An administrative investigation conducted by the Ministry of Justice in 2020 revealed that around 17,000 individuals were harmed with unfair penalties, seizure of property as well as violations of enforcement procedures and that the company 'Micro Credit Albania' was included in the debt collection scheme. as well as a group of private enforcement offices, notaries and other related companies.

Meanwhile, an investigation carried out by the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana assessed that the responsibilities may extend to the Bank of Albania and its governor for delayed or inappropriate measures to curb this scheme.

Sejko referred several times to the Ministry of Justice and the enforcement system or courts, as actors involved in the process of collecting obligations for bad loans, and even to the prosecutor's office that he had no information about suspicions of "financial fraud".

The governor claimed that he had taken successive measures aimed at the protection of the consumer since the detection of the problem, but that what was happening to the customers was beyond his powers.

According to him, BSH had carried out the expertise and found high-risk problems in the company Micro Credit Albania (MCA) in 2020, and regulatory measures had been taken, such as the obligation of penalties not to be greater than 30 percent of the amount of taken as a loan.

However, he admitted that MCA had not implemented the measures left and BSH had decided to suspend the license two years later.

"Don't ask me to account for the enforcement and the judiciary", he said, adding that clients have been harmed by the enforcement procedures.

Sejko said that his measures had been regulatory, even extralegal, as was the case of the measure to limit the penalty by 30%, for which he asked the deputies to sanction it in law.

Asked why he had not immediately taken the measure of revoking the license, he said that "risk level 4 does not mean immediate revocation of the license, but a plan of measures" and that this would harm the consumer.

"We decided to suspend the license and not to buy new wallets and we noticed that there were deviations", said Sejko, while adding that this measure was taken so as not to leave customers in the "hands of the bailiffs".

"The problem did not disappear with license revocation", he suggested.

Sejko admitted that the situation is being examined in the "Final" company, which according to him seems to have the same problem, but in this company as in the case of MCA, the clients were already in the enforcement phase.

While the majority MPs asked questions to address legal solutions or to understand the problem, MPs from the opposition put Sejko in front of accusations for not fulfilling his duty to manage the situation.

Deputy Agron Shehaj accused Sejko of having allowed MCA to act illegally, creating the conditions for a financial fraud at high levels.

"In the same subject, you have concentrated the activity of microcredit, the purchase of bad loans, and then they introduced the executor and this has created the conditions for this financial fraud to take place that has taken 100 thousand Albanian citizens hostage today", he addressed Seikos.

Shehaj asked the governor why he did not revoke the license immediately after his inspectors found that MCA was of maximum risk and that a financial fraud was being perpetrated there. "You let this criminal activity continue for another 4 years", he accused.

But the governor called the MP's questions opinions and said he had complied with all his legal and regulatory obligations.

"I cannot say financial fraud, the prosecution says, and I expect the prosecution to tell me", referring to a 2022 letter in which he said he requested information from the investigative body.

"I received an answer that there was no financial investigation, however the bank has taken its measures", he said.

In his clarifications, Sejko said that MCA had bought these bad loans even though it did not have a license for this from the beginning.

According to him, this was not illegal.

"They were in the market and they operated according to the civil code," he said. "We adjusted the market to call it a loan product to have it in the loan register", added Sejko.

The governor referred to a figure of 63 thousand for current customers who have bad credit, while in the case of MCA he said that there are 16 thousand, 90 percent of whom have received a court decision or are in the enforcement process./ BIRN