Cash earned by London drug dealers is distorting the Albanian economy and causing property prices in the Balkan nation to spiral, according to a leading local economist.
Chartered accountant Armand Mala told the Daily Express the nation’s housing boom was being exploited by criminals due to a lack of regulation.
“The construction sector has been a good way to invest [for criminals because] you only prove the source of a small amount of money [when] buying a property,” he explained. “The rest can be paid in cash without giving a reason where [the individual] got it.
“So this has been a good solution for those who invest money not earned [in a legal] way abroad. [The market also helps with] money laundering because, after a certain period, they can resell the property with a higher price and gain a profit.”
During a reporting trip to Albania, the Daily Express saw how the former communist country is being transformed by new developments.
Sprawling resorts are being constructed across the Albanian Riviera and shimmering new tower blocks are being added to central Tirana’s skyline at pace.
We also heard many stories from locals about how young men who had travelled to London to work in cannabis farms had been investing the hundreds of thousands they earned in property.
However, Mala said due to the many ways money can be moved online these days it was difficult to estimate the precise extent this was fuelling this boom. He believes foreign money is a factor as evidenced by the many empty homes in new buildings.
One aspect being felt by average Albanians is the soaring house prices. Last year, the cost of properties in Albania increased an extraordinary 39%.
Unsurprisingly in a country where the average wage is just £300 per month, it’s put the dream of owning