Telecom Kosovo’s (TK’s) board of directors has been dismissed for mismanaging the telco by the nation’s new government, Prishtina Insight reports. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and Entrepreneurship and Strategic Investments, Rozeta Hajdari, proposed that the board be replaced, citing the operator’s poor performance and its growing reputation for corruption. The minister was quoted as telling cabinet: ‘TK is in an extremely poor financial and operating condition, on the verge of bankruptcy, endangering Kosovo’s telecommunications services and jeopardising public property [and] the livelihoods of thousands of employees … The government should immediately dismiss the chairs of the board if it finds that they have breached their financial duties.’ Newly-elected Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s new cabinet voted unanimously to dismiss the officials.
TK has faced numerous scandals in recent years, with allegations of abuse of office, nepotism and corruption, as it has steadily declined from one of the nation’s most profitable firms to the verge of bankruptcy. For the most part, these accusations have centred around the company overspending on services as a means to syphon cash from the company to an associate. Most recently, for example, an investigation earlier this year found that the company had spent over EUR30 million (USD32.5 million) on advertising and media sponsorships over the last decade, including more than EUR2 million since 2015 – when the provider had begun to register annual losses. TK had spent money with at least 116 online portals and media outlets, but the report noted that there were only 33 such entities registered with Kosovo’s industry body at the time. Many of the beneficiaries of these deals were companies owned by politicians or their close associates. One such firm, Agjencia per Informim Rajonal, was partly-owned by the brother of the former PM and received thousands of euros from the telco.