The current status of the VEFA financial institution, especially regarding any proceedings against Vehbi Alimucaj, his associates, and VEFA employees (May 1998-December 1999) [ALB33518.E]

On 13 May 1998 the Court of Appeal in Tirana ruled that Vehbi Alimucaj should be held in "unlimited detention" pending his trial on a charge of "appropriation in cooperation through deceit and in large amounts" in connection with the failure of the VEFA financial institution of which he had been president (ATA 13 May 1998).

On 23 May 1999 it was reported that the prosecution in the VEFA case had alleged that the equivalent of US$ 10 million had been transferred to Switzerland by VEFA, and that unnamed "collaborators" of Vehbi Alimucaj had been located by the Swiss police (ATA).

On 20 October 1999 Vehbi Alimucaj appeared before the judges of a Tirana court in connection with an accusation of "fraud and creation of armed gangs" (ATA 20 Oct. 1999).

On 12 November 1999 two unidentified witnesses in a trial connected to the VEFA failure were arrested when their testimony in the courtroom was found to differ from what they had told the prosecutor previously (ibid. 13 Nov. 1999). The report did not state whether the two were charged following their arrest (ibid.). On 14 November 1999 the Albanian press reported that nine more people had been arrested in connection with VEFA, but they were not identified (ATA). On 18 November 1999 the Albanian press reported that a court had "locked the file" on the VEFA case and that the investigation was closed (ATA). Further details were not provided in the report (ibid.).

The Albanian government registered its displeasure with a 2 December 1999 court decision to release Vehbi Alimucaj from custody, subjecting him only to house arrest as his trial continued (ATA 3 Dec. 1999; DPA 3 Dec. 1999). On 25 December 1999 it was reported that Vehbi Alimucaj was unable to appear in court due to high blood pressure (ATA).

The Albanian government is in the process of selling the assets of VEFA and other failed "pyramid schemes," with financial assistance from abroad, in order to partially compensate those who lost the money they had invested in the schemes (DPA 3 Dec. 1999).

Specific information on arrests or trials of lower-level VEFA employees could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Response.


Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA). 25 December 1999. "Press Review." [Accessed 5 Jan. 2000]

_____. 3 December 1999. "Government Concerned About Release of Pyramid Scheme Boss." (BBC Summary 4 Dec. 1999/NEXIS)

_____. 18 November 1999. "Press Review." [Accessed 5 Jan. 2000]

_____. 14 November 1999. "Press Review." [Accessed 5 Jan. 2000]

_____. 13 November 1999. "Press Review." [Accessed 5 Jan. 2000]

_____. 20 November 1999. "Press Review." [Accessed 5 Jan. 2000]

_____. 23 May 1998. "Press Review." [Accessed 5 Jan. 2000]

_____. 13 May 1998. F. Zekthi. "Court Rules 'Unlimited Detention' for VEFA Manager." (FBIS-EEU-98-134 14 May 1998/WNC)

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 3 December 1999. BC Cycle. "Albanian Government Condemns Release of Pyramid Scheme Boss." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report 1999. 1999

IRB databases


World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Albania: Land of the Eagles

Albania Online



Freedom House

Human Rights Watch

News Index


Transitions [Prague]. January 1998-March 1999

Transparency International