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    Head of Albanian pyramid scheme arrested in Uruguay

    Posted by franksupa on September 25, 2008

    TIRANA – An Albanian sentenced in his absence to 16 years’ imprisonment for running a fraudulent pyramid scheme has been arrested in Uruguay, Albanian police said on Wednesday.

    The collapse in 1997 of the country’s pyramid investment schemes led to losses of $2 billion worth of savers’ money and led to riots and anarchy.

    “We have been informed by Interpol in Montevideo that the citizen Bashkim Driza has been arrested in Uruguay and is now under house arrest,” police said in a statement.
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    Driza, 50, was tried in his absence in 2002 and received a 16-year sentence in 2002 for defrauding 304,240 people of 870 million leks ($1 million).

    Police said he had been living in Uruguay, Chile and the Dominican Republic using Uruguayan and Dominican passports.

    His scheme offered huge returns but had not invested in fixed assets like most of the other schemes that tempted Albanians to sell apartments, land and livestock to invest in them with the promise of huge sums of money.

    Albania is trying to recover money the pyramid scheme operators deposited abroad, including 200 million dollars deposited in Greece by one of the schemes.

    Between 2,000 and 3,000 people were killed in unrest that gripped the Balkan country for six months in the wake of the systems’ collapse in 1997 until an Italian-led European force restored order.

    With files from Benet Koleka



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