Albania enlists EY to combat tax evasion and economic crime

08 June 2018

Albania – a candidate country for EU membership – has called in Big Four professional services firm EY to help combat pervasive tax evasion and stamp out a black economy worth a third of its GDP.

The world’s largest consultancies, including EY, have had a presence in Albania for years. Strategically located in the southwest Balkans, the country is one of many former Eastern Bloc nations that has opened up to business and applied for EU membership since the collapse of the old order.

Yet despite joining NATO in 2014, EU accession talks have repeated stalled. Albania remains beleaguered by problems with organised crime, drug trafficking and political instability related to historic Balkan strife. Keen to get a grip on the situation, Albanian prime minister Edi Rama has signed a deal with accounting and consulting firm EY to help the government crack down on a wide range of economic crimes.Albania enlists EY to combat tax evasion and economic crimeDetails of the contract are still scarce. Rama, a former mayor of Tirana and successful painter, has said a team of high-level American and German experts from EY will work closely with the country’s interior and finance ministries. A US national and former FBI employee will lead the EY team, assisted by a German with high level experience in the economic crime unit of Europe’s largest economy.

"We have done a lot but we feel the need to do much more. There is still money out there that belongs to the people and the country and is now not where it should be,” said Rama.

Revealing the scale of the problem, one official added that police have frozen assets worth €10 million in the past five years. The black market is said to be worth a third of the country’s GDP, while a 2017 study revealed that tax evasion carves out an €800 million hole in the economy, equivalent to 8% of GDP or six times the entire defence budget.

Like Big Four counterparts Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC, EY is no stranger to former Eastern Bloc markets. The consulting firm has written substantial reports on transparency and new VAT rules in Albania, and recently promoted Aurelia Costache as head of its Business Advisory unit in Romania.

Azerbaijan's air navigation service provider flies in Helios

19 April 2019

Azerbaijan’s Azeraeronavigation, the country’s air navigation service provider, has selected aviation consultancy Helios to support it with the upgrade of its communication, navigation and surveillance systems infrastructure for air traffic management.

Bordering with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia from the north and east, Iran from the south, and Georgia, Armenia and Turkey from the west, Azerbaijan’s airspace is used by dozens of international and national carriers. The country’s airspace, of which 86,600 sq. km is land and 78,000 sq. km is above the Caspian sea area, currently spans a route network of around 8,000 km. 

Azeraeronavigation, the organisation which control the country’s air traffic management (ATM) and communication navigation and surveillance systems (CNS), needs to prepare for a growing number of commercial flights passing through its airspace. The organisation has also developed a strategy to become one of the best performing and innovative air navigation service providers in the region. To support delivery of both objectives, the organisation has brought consultants from Helios on board.Azerbaijan's air navigation service provider flies in HeliosHelios will assess Azeraeronavigation’s current infrastructure with a particular focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its components, and help to develop an implementation roadmap. This will include an action plan and development of options for evolution of the infrastructure, covering criteria such as capacity, new technology, safety, cost-efficiency and more.

“This project will enable us to fully prepare for the future, improve our efficiency and take advantage of innovative technologies, as well as to decide on the best way forward in order to meet the ultimate goal of providing high-value and excellent services to our users,” said Farhan Guliyev, director of Azeraeronavigation. 

Commenting on the project, Helios’s chief executive officer Claire Davies said, “We are delighted to be supporting Azeraeronavigation on this ambitious and important project. Helios has extensive experience and a deep understanding of air traffic management and communication, navigation and surveillance systems. I am confident we will be able to help them accelerate their exciting programme of improvement.” 

Last year, Ukraine's national air traffic service provider hired experts from Helios to oversee a systems upgrade project.