12/03/2014 - 19:57
Durres, 28 february 2014 - The economic growth of the impoverished Albania was heavily based on easy term credits and outright grants as well as the remittances of the Albanian migrant workers (one fifth of the population). The economic crises caused a drying down of grants a easy term loans and a shrinking of the remittance money. FDI(Foreign Direct Investments) REMAINED THE ONLY WAY OUT. The previous government of the right wing Premier Mr. Berisha tried to attract foreign entrepreneurs by privatizing the last slices of the public strategic sector using especially the concessions. Unfortunately in most of the cases such foreign entrepreneurs used to have problems with the law in their mother country or in other countries, where they had had their previous investments. In some cases they were simply ex jail birds, spending stints in prison for a variety of crimes and felonies ranging from commercial fraud to attempted murder, gun smuggling or supporting of terrorism.
A case at issue is the story of Mr. Heiko Luikenga a German businessman, whose company “EMS Shipping and Trading GMBH” was awarded the concession of East Terminal in Durres, the main port of Albania. In the last months of the right wing Berisha government he managed to grab such a concession.
Precisely on May 9, 2013 a letter number 2091/3 bearing the signature of the deputy minister of the Ministry of Public Works and Transports ordered the Durres Port Authority to to hand over the East Terminal to the German Company owned by Mr. Luikenga as per concession contract of operation, management and maintenance of the said terminal. The contract was valid fromMay 6, 2013. The whole procedure was not a simple violation of the Albanian law. No the law was simply trampled underfoot. Anyway we are not going into detail in the violation of the Albanian law in this article. We are concerned at who is Mr. Haeiko Luikenga. Consulting open sources of information we stumbled on a breath taking evidence. Mr. Luikenga was one of nine (Polish, German and American) defendants in a a case of international gun smuggling. By late 1991 American custom officers managed to uncover a ring of international gun smugglers. The ring was made of 6 top polish ex communist bosses including two former deputy ministers and a three star general of the Armed Forces of the People’s republic of Poland, two American citizens and our Mr. Luikenga a German citizen. The American custom officers using a sting operation accused them of signing a deal to ship to Saddam Hussein government 4 000 grenade launchers,1 000 portable antiaircraft missiles and 73 000 assault rifles worth 96 million USD. They also promised to supply in the future uranium, bomb triggers even nuclear bombs.
The smuggling ring part of which was Mr. Luikenga also smuggled into USA 100 pieces of AK 47 assault rifles, from Bulgaria via Rotterdam to New York for a payment of 43 000 USD.
The United State District Court E.D. covered the case of the international ring of gun runners, including Mr. Haeiko Luikenga from 1992 to 1993. The case was reported by American media, as for instance on Los Angeles Times on March 28, 1992. Phill Williams in his book: Russian Organized Crime New Threat mention this case and specifically the name of Mr. Luikenga,too. This gun running was no fitrst time for Mr. Haeiko Luikenga. He was involved in gun running instances during the eighties, sailing ships loaded with weapons in Egyptian and Pakistani harbors.
It is strange that a country like Albanian with already porous borders hands over such a terminal to an ex gunrunner, whose offshore company called Anchor Navigation INC (Nevis) Helm Master Shipping Corp registered in Liberia and controlled by EMS Shipping and Trading GMBH, ia also suspected of foul play, too.(see: http://allhonourablemen.blogspot.com/2012/10/sheltering-i.htm). This concession becomes even more suspicious as EMS Shipping and Trading GMBH does not simply own the concession ,but it also wholly or partially owns or controls the stevedore company operating at the terminal, the shipping company, the forwarding company and the customs agent company operating at the East Terminal . naturally less eyes to see what is happening at the terminal, less ears to hear and less suspicious noses to poke at the activities of the terminal. Yet Albania is a NATO member country bearing certain obligations towards collective security not just her own security. And the East Terminal concession is run by an ex gun smuggler and an ex jail bird!
The German embassy at Tirana (the capital city of Albania), has wholeheartedly backed such a German investment at Durres Port. Mr. Ernst Burghbacher Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Economics and Technology (2009 to 2013) and Mr. Helmut Hoffmann the German Ambassador in Albania visiting Durres Port on Oct. 3rd in their speeches praised the operation of the German companies in Durres Port and pledged the support of German state to these companies. On Jan.22nd 2014 the DIHA (an NGO representing the interest of the German business in Albania) deputy chairman Mr. Jens Strober (an employee of Mr.Luikenga) handed over a letter of intent to Mr. Arben Ahmetaj the Albanian Minister of Trade economic development and entrepreneurship. Mr. Niko Peleshi deputy Prime Minister of Albania and Mr. Damian Gjiknuri the Albanian Minister of Industry and Energy were present, too. The letter stressed the fact that the German side would like to back(support) Albania in order to improve its image and to attract foreign investments, but the experience of the already German investments in Albania remains of paramount importance in this direction.
The economic damage caused to the Albanian public interest and the revenue Albanian state loses due to such a concession are not included in our article. It will be part of a second article. Only the security concern and anxiety is displayed in our article.