Two weeks ago, New Europe published an indepth coverstory on the villa of Ambassador of the European Union in Tirana (Albania) Romana Vlahutin. The property was purchased for and on behalf of the European External Action Service (EEAS) for €1,649,000, and is a house of 345 square meters. As the story uncovered, houses of nearly double the size villas are on offer for about half the price in the same complex. Furthermore, this was the most expensive sale in the Rolling Hills residence.

Earlier this week, Doris Pack (former MEP, EPP/CDU) stated in Tirana that “she would feel ashamed if news of Ambassador Vlahutin’s villa would be true” and that “this would be a shame for the entire European Union.”

New Europe published the excerpt of the purchase contract containing the price and signatures of the parties involved, as well as the websites of the agencies with current market prices.

Furthermore, Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control, Ingeborg Grässle,  has sent a letter with 11 questions to Federica Mogherini concerning the purchase of the notorious villa:

Follow-up questions to the EEAS – allegations of corruption against a high EEAS official

The EEAS bought a residence in the area of Rolling Hills, Tirana Albania. It came to our knowledge that the price of the 345 square meter villa was EUR 1.65 million that would correspond to EUR 4780 per square meter.

 Can the Commission confirm the above-mentioned figures?

If yes, what was the reason for that high price per square meter given that the average price for property in the same category and in the same area, the Rolling Hills, seems to range from EUR 1000 to EUR 2000 per square meter?

What was the reason to buy that expensive property instead of renting it or another one?

Was a public procurement procedure launched? How many offers had been received?

Could you please inform us about the exact date when the negotiations about the new property started and the date when the purchase contract was signed?

Who was in charge of the negotiations?

Is there an OLAF investigation ongoing?

Could you please list the staff turnover between the (unofficial) start of the negotiations and the signature of the purchase contract?

Is the EEAS aware of any relatives, of members of the Albanian government, who are working for the EU-delegation? If yes, could you please provide us with the respective names?

In public, we see allegations of corruption against a high-ranking official of the EEAS. Can the EEAS confirm any investigation? 

Does the EEAS together with the Commission investigate recruitment procedures? 

Responses are expected by Friday 24 February at 12.00.

Despite the New Europe story of the purchase of the notorious villa printed two weeks ago with the question “Overcharged or corrupted?” the EEAS, has not changed its position yet, but will need to respond to an Access to Documents request by March 1st.

In his masterpiece, ‘Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans’, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, paired up nobles from the two historical powers expanded on their common moral virtues and vices.

The Greek parallel, is in the next story.

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