A watchdog has revealed that the Ministry of Justice broke the law to use public funds to buy senior officials VIP tickets for the Euro 2016 qualifying match in Elbasan. Records of treasury transactions published by Open Data Albania, a Tirana-based watchdog, show Albania’s Ministry of Justice paid 36,000 lek (about 250 euros )to the Albanian Football Federation on October 8 for football tickets.
Although the transaction is listed by the ministry under “expenses for participating in conferences”, the description on the invoice says the payment was for “tickets”. Although the sum in question is small, the use by officials of public funds for private gain is a criminal offence and under article 256 is punishable by a jail sentence or a fine.
Albania played Denmark on October 11th in the Elbasan Arena Stadium, drawing 1:1 in its second qualifying match in the run-up to the Euro 2016 championship in France. Queried by BIRN, the Ministry of Justice admitted that it paid for two tickets for the game, but then said the money had already been deducted from the two staffers’ salaries.
“The Ministry of Justice has withdrawn the sum from the October salaries of the two employees,” the ministry said in a statement. Although the ministry said it bought only two tickets, it is unclear why it transferred 36,000 lek to Albania’s Football Federation .
The Federation says the most expensive tickets for the small VIP section of the stadium cost only 10,000 lek each. The ministry also did not disclose which officials watched the game in the Elbasan Arena. However, the Minister of Justice, Nasip Naco, was photographed in the VIP box during the game.