Albania’s opposition Democratic party made a criminal complaint against Prime Minister Edi Rama on Monday, accusing him of illegally funneling $80,000 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, in return for a photograph of the two men together.
The Democrats brought the case to the prosecutor general’s office, saying Rama – who was then the opposition leader – paid the money in violation ofUS and Albanian laws to gain access to a campaign event in San Francisco in October 2012.
Rama has denied taking part in “any of President Obama’s electoral meetings” or that he paid for tickets to the San Francisco event, although he acknowledged meeting Shehu as “a member of the Albanian community in New York”.
“Premier Rama has no connection with any kind of illegal funding,” a statement from Rama’s office said, “and the only ‘crime’ he committed in 2012 is that he had a picture with the US president at a time when the Albanian government and its chief had the doors closed and Albania’s international relations suffered.”
According to documents filed in Shehu’s case in the US, investigated by the FBI, he received the money from a foreign source and provided it to a joint fundraising committee to disguise its true origin, so a foreign national could attend a campaign event.