Albanian opposition's payment to US lobbying probed

TIRANA, Albania - The Tirana prosecutor's office says it has started an investigation into money that Albania's main opposition centre-right Democratic Party has used for lobbying in the United States.

A statement received Thursday said that prosecutors have asked the Democrats and the Central Election Commission to explain and show whether an allegedly informal payment of $675,000 (€570,000) through offshore-registered companies has been declared by the party.

Media have reported that in the spring, ahead of Albania's June parliamentary election, the opposition Democrats paid three lobbying companies in the United States to secure meetings and raise their voice with President Donald Trump's administration.

Democrats' leader Lulzim Basha insisted the party has declared everything correctly.

"The Democratic Party has nothing to hide," he said while speaking in Parliament Thursday. "Take it (the request for opening an investigation) to the prosecutor's office, take it to the FBI."

Albania's main political groupings have recently hired lobbyists in the U.S. ahead of general elections, seeking to secure support from the U.S. government, which is helpful in Albania, where pro-American feelings run high.

The Democrats suffered a landslide loss in a June vote, securing only 43 seats in the 140-seat parliament.

The Socialists won a clear majority with 74 seats.


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