A Saudi businessman with a business empire in Albania is demanding millions of euros in compensation from Albania for mismanaging his assets while he was on a UN terror list.
|Saudi businessman Yassin Kadi (left) and two buildings called “Twin Towers” partially built by him on Tirana central boulevard.|
Saudi businessman Yassin Kadi lost his business empire in Albania, built up in the 1990s, after his name was included on a UN black list of terror financiers in 2001.
Fifteen years later, Kadi has cleared his name following lengthy court proceedings in Europe and the US and has won back his properties in Albania.
Now he is demanding about 11 million euros in compensation and lost profit, claiming that his properties were mismanaged when the government ran them.
His lawyer delivered the claim to the Administrative Court of Tirana against the Ministry of Finance and the Agency for the Administration of Seized Properties in February. These bodies managed his empire for about seven years.
The claim, reviewed by BIRN, states that Kadi is seeking 1.5 billion leks, [about 11 million euros], mostly in lost profit.
Kadi expanded in Albania from his hometown in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s by investing in real estate, construction and other activities while he was also engaged in charities.
His businesses went bust after the November 11, 2001 terror attacks, when Kadi was included on the UN list of suspected financiers of Al-Qaeda terrorists.
While his wealth was under seizure, Kadi fought court battles against the charges. He was later cleared by courts in Luxembourg, Istanbul and New York.
His name was removed from the UN black list on December 2012 and in 2013 the government of Albania handed back his seized properties in the country.
But Kadi claims that the government’s administration of his network of seven companies cost him dearly.
The Ministry of Finance and the Agency deny this. Through a written statement presented to the court, the agency says his properties were managed according to the law and that the lost profit, claimed by Kadi, is highly hypothetical.
His main company, Loxhall, seized by the authorities in 2006, was administered by the government till 2013. This company owns about 19 sites under rental agreements with various tenants and a huge land plot on the outskirts of Tirana.
His assets in Albania also include 36 bank accounts, six other smaller companies and about 20 apartments in the “Twin Towers”, the most expensive building in the country.
Kadi’s claim says the government left his properties unused or used them in a nontransparent way.
“The seizure of the properties of the claimant had caused consequences. The seizure and administration of the properties was conducted in a nontransparent way,” the court claim states.
The focal point of the claim is a 22,000 square metre plot on the outskirts of Tirana that was left unused.
“This property was left unused while it should have been developed,” Kadi claims. According to him, this incurred 1.5 billion leks [about 10.7 million euros] in lost profits, since the administrators did not follow up on plans to build apartment blocks there.
The authorities reply that the law does not permit the use of seized properties for development.
“As a state administrative institution, we could not develop the 22,000 square metre land plot. The right to apply for building permits rests exclusively with the landowner and not the administrator,” the agency says, urging the court to dismiss the claim.
“The assets grew during the administration and the proceeds were transferred [to the owner],” it adds.
The Administrative Court of Tirana is expected to hold a hearing soon.