Pyramid schemes in Albania

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Pyramid schemes in Albania were Ponzi schemes that precipitated the 1997 unrest in Albania. They started operations in 1991 with the first being formed by Hajdin Sejdia[1]. After starting works for the construction of an alleged hotel in central Tirana, he escaped to Switzerland with several million dollars. The area became known as Hajdin Sejdia's Hole. Later it was filled by crews to create a local park, but it was taken over by the local prostitution scene. Following these events, some creditors were liquidated while others were not. It is alleged that most of the sums are still held in foreign banks.

Former economic advisor of Prime Minister Fatos Nano was arrested [2] and imprisoned [3] for his opposition to these schemes.

Pyramid schemes of 1997[edit]

The unrest of the year 1997 came as a tragic consequence of the bankruptcy of some 25 firms. The face value of the schemes' liabilities totaled $1.2 billion.[4]


This firm was established in 1993 by Maksude Kadëna, also known as Sudja,[5] who had worked in a shoe factory. Strangely, when Sudja was arrested she was living in a dilapidated apartment complex.[5] The collapse triggered several protests in Tirana, which was also its area of operation.


Vefa Holding was the main pyramid firm. It was created in 1994 by Vehbi Alimuça and lay down across the country. Vefa invested in various fields of economy such as hotels, fuel, stores and factories. Best known is the bomb assassination a few weeks before the elections of 26 May 1996 to Vefa's supermarket in downtown Tirana. Vefa often seen as the firm's rentier PD. It went bankrupt in 1998, while its president was in prison.


The Gjallica firm was created by three former State Security effective originating from Kukes. President of the company was Shemsie Kadria. Gjallica had its center in Vlora. The firm went bankrupt on February 5, 1997, prompting violent protests in Vlora, which later turned into rebellion against the government.

People's Democracy-Xhaferri[edit]

This firm was established in 1995 and began to extend its activities in the villages of Lushnja, Fier and Berat. Officially it was a "foundation" but in fact became one of the most severe pyramidal firms in the country. Its leader, Rrapush Xhaferri, was arrested on January 22, 1997, which triggered violent demonstrations in Lushnje January 24–25.


This Populli (English: People) firm was created on July 16, 1996 and was extended in the same area as the Xhaferri. Its President was Bashkim Driza the former State Security agent. He worked deeply with the Albanian opposition parties finance their campaigns and newsletters. During the riots of 1997, he left with a U.S. helicopter.

Full list of Albanian pyramid schemes[edit]

  • Populli
  • Demokracia Popullore-Xhaferri
  • Kamberi
  • Cenaj
  • Silva
  • Malvasia
  • Kambo
  • Grunjasi
  • Dypero
  • Bashkimi
  • Beno
  • Pogoni
  • B&G
  • Kobuzi
  • Arkond
  • Adelin
  • A.Delon
  • Agi
  • M.Leka Company
  • Global Limited Co.
  • Çashku

The nine major pyramid firms in relation with creditors[edit]

Company No. of Creditors
Gjallica 8,632
VEFA 59,005
Cenaj 19,078
Kamberi 13,241
Sude 12,991
Beno 10,793
Silva 4,490
M.Leka 2,464
Global 1,793
Total 132,487


  1. ^ Andrew Gumbel Lushnje (1997-02-06). "Albanian 'financiers' fail to play the game | World | News". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  2. ^ Rexhina Nano (2008). Të jetosh kohën. Botimet DUDAJ. p. 123.
  3. ^ Jeffries, Ian (1996). A Guide to the Economies in Transition. p. 379. ISBN 0-415-13684-9.
  4. ^ "Finance & Development, March 2000 - The Rise and Fall of Albania's Pyramid Schemes". 2000-03-01. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  5. ^ a b Glauber, Bill (23 February 1997). "It's bad in Albania and it's about to get worse Failed pyramid deals spread fear, unrest". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 27 August 2012.

Other sources[edit]

  • "Rënia e Demokracisë", Afrim Krasniqi, 1998, Eurorilindja
  • "Unë e pashë kush e dogji Vlorën", Gëzim Zilja, 2000, Pelioni

External links[edit]