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Albania, eyeing EU, approves laws against money-laundering

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By Benet Koleka

TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania’s parliament approved a series of laws on Monday aimed at plugging holes in legislation against money laundering as part of efforts to persuade the European Union to launch accession talks.

The EU is expected to decide by September whether to open membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

Diplomats say North Macedonia is likely to receive an invitation but not Albania due to persistent concerns about corruption, especially money laundering, despite Tirana’s firing of corrupt judges and prosecutors.

“The package of five draft laws fills in a short time the technical holes and meets the recommendations that are seen as a priority and of special importance,” Finance Minister Anila Denaj told parliament, referring to the suggestions of a European anti-money laundering body.

Under the new laws, businesses must declare new partners, transactions by politicians will be monitored for five years, and an agency will be set up to administer properties seized by the state in the fight against money laundering.

Denaj said Albanian authorities had seized on average some 9 million euros worth of illegally laundered funds and assets annually since the ruling Socialist Party took power in 2013, up from an annual average of just 230,000 euros before that date.

(Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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