Open Data Albania has conducted a research into the legal irregularities observed in the course of the financial auditing in the 2011 Electoral Campaign. The auditing of electoral subjects? finances is a new concept and legal practice in the Republic of Albania. The legal provisions regulating this process date back to the 2008 amendments to the Electoral Code. Chapter II of the Electoral Code regulates the allocation of public funds to electoral subjects and also their funding through non-public funds. The non-public funds are also known as funding from private donors.

The Electoral Code tasks the public professionals employed as Certified Accountants with the duty of monitoring the enforcement of the legal provisions, and the implementation of international standards and rules on auditing. The accountants are selected by means of a lottery held no later than 45 days after the proclamation of the final results. The research into the publication and content of the auditing reports has brought to light a number of irregularities, shortcomings, and violations of the law.

1. Non-compliance with the obligation to publish the Auditing Report
(Article 91, point 4 of the Electoral Code). In conformity with Article 91, point 4 of the Electoral Code, the Central Election Commission is required to publish the auditing reports for the electoral subjects. This obligation should be met no later than 30 days from the report?s submission, or in any case within the same period from the conclusion of the relative verifications. Since the CEC has considered the administration of the 2011 Electoral Campaign as being over, there are still three electoral subjects, political parties, on which no auditing reports have been published. In conclusion, the absence of auditing reports on these electoral subjects two years after the campaign is a serious shortcoming in terms of meeting the legal obligations.

Non-compliance with the obligation to publish the Auditing Report, Article 91, point 4/Electoral Code

Source: Audit Reports Accounting, political parties, campaign 2011
Comments and analysis: ODA

2. Partial publication of the Auditing Report. The publication of the Auditor?s Reports is an obligation set forth by the law. The publication is related to the observance of the transparency principle, a crucial principle in the context of electoral finances. A mistake in the publication of the Auditor?s Reports on the CEC?s official website may consist in a technical shortcoming or irregularity. But this irregularity may bend the legal obligations, while undermining and flawing the transparency process. Specifically, in 30 cases the CEC has published partial Auditor?s Reports that lack the revenues and expenses sheets. In other words, the public is given the opportunity to read the experts? assessments without taking a glance at the accounting sheets? data. The said cases are CEC?s responsibility, for in conformity with Article 91, point 4 of the Electoral Code, it is required to publish the above reports.

3. Incorrect reference to the law. In the Auditor?s Reports, there are often observed incorrect references to the electoral legislation. It happens frequently that the accountants refer to a certain Article of the law, citing from it incorrectly. The most common example of this is the quotation of Article 89, point 2, of the Electoral Code, which is wrongly referred to in most cases.

4. The failure to draft Auditor’s Reports for each electoral subject. A clear violation of the law and an unprofessional behavior on the part of the certified accountants is the example provided during the 2011 electoral campaign, when for a group of electoral subjects was filed a common Auditor?s Report. Every electoral subject, whether a political party or an independent candidate, upon its registration as such, assumes the legal obligation of submitting a separate auditing report. No matter how insignificant are the amounts recorded on the balance sheet, and despite the lack of auditable actions that mark the financial history of an electoral subject, it is still required to submit to auditing as a legal obligation.

Contributed by: Aranita Brahaj