Arrest Warrant Issued by Albania for Businessman Francesco Becchetti

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On 4 November 2015, it was reported that Italian businessman, and owner of the League Two football club, Leyton Orient, Francesco Becchetti, had been arrested in the United Kingdom, following an arrest warrant issued by the Albanian government. A report is here.

 

Allegations

Mr Becchetti, his mother, and two business associates are accused of fraud-related offences and money laundering, committed between January 2012 and October 2013, in relation to a failed hydroelectric scheme that allegedly cost the Albanian government tens of millions of euros in grants and unpaid taxes.

According to reports, a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued by Albanian authorities in June 2015, seeking Mr Becchetti’s extradition. Learning of the existence of the EAW, Mr Becchetti subsequently notified the British authorities of his presence in London, according to a statement issued by the businessman.

Arrest and Appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, 26 October 2015

On 26 October 2015, Mr Becchetti was arrested by appointment in London by officers from the Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit, in the UK.

He appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court the same day and was released on bail, subject to a security of £50,000 and a curfew between the hours of 11 pm to 5 am. Mr Becchetti was also required to surrender his passport to the police and is not allowed to leave the UK.

Mr Becchetti denies the charges, and has accused the Albanian government of making “baseless charges” against him. Mr Becchetti alleges that the assets of his companies in Albania have been seized and their bank accounts frozen, preventing him from paying staff at his television company, Agon TV.

Mr Becchetti was set to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court again, on 7 December 2015, at a procedural hearing that was to consider the extradition request. To date, there are no public reports on this hearing. A substantive hearing is expected in 2016.

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