Prosecution: Company Contracted by Ministry Didn’t Declare 25,000 Passports

The German company with which the Ministry of Interior in Kosovo concluded a contract to supply passports is accused of evading customs tax for 25,000 passports. 

In December 2022, the Ministry of Interior in Kosovo signed a contract with the German company Verdios GmbH to supply passports for the citizens of Kosovo.

The contract signing came a few months after a crisis over the lack of passport material, with long waiting times for new passports.

The contract concluded on December 27, 2022, was signed with a negotiated procedure and the procedures were led by the Ministry of Interior, led by Xhelal Sveçla.

But BIRN has discovered that the company had serious problems with the law at the time the contract was being signed.

The data show that, on August 22, 2022, the Prosecutor’s Office of Prishtina filed an indictment against the company and the persons responsible, under the charge that the company had tried to import 25,000 passports into Kosovo without customs clearance.

The indictment that prosecutor Bekim Kodraliu filed was based on evidence, and the company is accused of damaging the budget of Kosovo by 173,258 euros in total.

The file obtained by BIRN shows that the accused are two natural persons, with the initials V.Uj and R.W,  and the German company Veridos GmbH as a legal entity.

“V.UJ submitted false documents, namely the invoice no. 155055939 regarding the amount of passports, which in the customs declaration R-6114/2020 submitted 175,000 pieces of passports for customs clearance, while after verification and control by customs officials it turned out to be 200,000 pieces, i.e. 25,000 less passports, which has damaged the budget of the Republic of Kosovo to the amount of 29,389.50 euros,” the indictment states.

The indictment clarifies that the action was committed between 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“Unique Customs Declarations, among others those with no. R-15765, R-6707, R-6727 as well as R-6114 presented for customs clearance of the goods on the above mentioned dates, were not correct and the same as the declarations brought later according to the request of the Kosovo Customs for the above mentioned goods , all this with the aim of avoiding the payment of customs taxes to the amount of 24,651.00 euros as well as value added tax to the amount of 148,607.58 euros, which has damaged the budget of the Republic of Kosovo to a total amount of 173,258.58 euros,” the indictment says.

The tender that the ministry contracted with the Berlin-based company contained the figure of 4, 210,164 euros.

This company was contracted through a negotiated procedure and was to supply the ministry with blank documents, passports, identity cards and driver’s licenses.

BIRN has requested clarification from the company about these accusations, but it had not provided concrete clarifications by time of publication.

“Please understand that we are generally unable to comment on legal matters relating to customer relationships. If you have specific questions about our products or services, we will be happy to provide you with information,” the company told BIRN on Thursday.

On February 23, 2021, Kosovo Customs sent a criminal report to the Basic Prosecutor’s Office of Prishtina regarding the actions allegedly committed by the two defendants as well as by the German company.

Part of prosecutor Kodraliu’s file is also the contract that the Ministry of Interior signed with Veridos GmbH in 2016. At that time, Kodraliu also ordered the confiscation of 25,000 passports which the German company had tried to avoid from customs tax.

“I propose to the court to confiscate the seized goods, 25,000 pieces of passports that have been hidden and have not been reported for customs clearance to Kosovo Customs, which, by order of the court on May 11, 2022, have already been given to the Ministry of Interior for official use,” the indictment provided by BIRN says.

Defendant V. Uj said that the case was a technical error, while the director representative of the subsidiary of the German company for Kosovo, R.W., did not have a correct answer as to why the case had happened.

BIRN has also discovered that even when the contract was signed during the Kurti government, at the end of December 2022, the company was having serious legal problems.

In the shipment dated March 31, 2023, Kosovo Customs stated that this company had inflated the value of a bill by nearly half a million euros, from over 550,000 euros, which was the real value, to over 1 million euros. It is not yet known why the company decided to declare a higher price for the imported passports. 

 BIRN has also contacted the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

 Nora Fetoshi, the adviser of the minister Xelal Sveçla, told BIRN that the ministry has no information about this event.

 She added that the ministry was informed that the company will send sensitive materials from Greece.

04/05/2023 - 16:53

04 May 2023 - 16:53

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.