Auditor from Kosovo takes B&E fraud courses

May 30, 2012

Drin Mormorina arrived in Morgantown in May to learn more about fraud. In particular, he wants to know how to detect and prevent it.

Mormorina is a senior internal auditor with the Foundation for International Community Assistance in head office Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo.

He will be taking fraud investigation and fraud data analysis at the College of Business and Economics before returning to Kosovo next month.

He applied for courses in fraud through the American Consulate in Kosovo in order to enhance his understanding of how fraud is detected in the United States. He said he is enjoying the courses and is "learning a lot."

His trip to the United States is sponsored by The Kosovo Improvement Through Education (KITE) program, which facilitates improvements in business and NGO performance to offset the impact of the global financial crisis.

"WVU was chosen because we found in our research on placements that it seemed to be one of the only programs that has a specific focus on fraud and fraud prevention," said Abid Amiri, program associate with the American Councils for International Education. "This is directly related to Drin's work in Kosovo, so we wanted to make sure that his placement was a good match with his professional goals."

Of Albanian descent, Mormorina was 19 during the Feb. 28, 1998 – June 10, 1999 war. He was at home in Prizren, which is in the southwestern part of the country near the border with Albania and Macadonia at the foot of the Sar Mountains.

"For 78 days of bombing I had to stay inside, and I could not go out of my home because it was very dangerous," he said. It was not the bombs that he feared: Those were from NATO planes that had intervened to stop the conflict with air strikes beginning on March 23, 1999. He was afraid of being captured and killed by Serbian troops, who have been accused of genocide. Indeed, two of his uncles had already had encounters.

One "committed suicide" in 1986 while serving in the Yugoslavian Army. Suicide was often the reason given for Albanian deaths in the Serbian-dominate Yugoslavian Army, but, said Mormorina, the deaths were murders. Serbia and Kosovo were both regions of the Communist-controlled Yugoslavia during the rule of Josip Broz Tito, who suppressed ethnic conflicts in the region after World War II and before his death in 1980.

Another uncle was taken prisoner from the streets and forced to do hard labor but was not killed.

Things really got tough in Kosovo in 1990. The region had switched from Kosovo Albanian majority domination to Serbian minority dominance during the 1980s, and as Slobodan Milosevic, a Serbian and rising communist official later to become president of Yugoslavia came to power, Serbian control of Kosovo was strengthened. In 1991, 800 professors at the University of Prishtina, where Mormorina would later study, were fired and nearly all students were expelled. Workers in Kosovo were forced to sign a loyalty pledge or be fired, too. Albanian unemployment soared.

Mormorina remembers that his high school was affected, as was the university. He had to attend classes in homes of Albanians because the formal schools had been taken over by Serbians. "I attended classes in two different houses, sitting on the floor," he said.

"There has been 1,000 years of drama in Kosovo," Mormorina said. "The past 100 years, I know about."

Once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, the ethnic composition of the entire region that would one day be Yugoslavia changed and changed again. Certainly hostilities were held in abeyance during the communist era, but the end of the communist regime created a power vacuum and a crisis. Trouble was on the way, Mormorina said. "We saw what was happening in Bosnia," he recalled. "We knew that anything could happen." It did.

An estimated 250,000 died in the Bosnian War. The number of civilians killed during the war in Kosovo, which is 92 percent ethnic Albanian, is still in dispute. A report by the U.S. State Department puts the number of civilians killed as a result of "ethnic cleansing" at 10,000, but no one knows for sure.

"Fortunately they (Serbians) didn't come after us in our houses, but in other towns and villages, people were not so lucky," Mormorina said. NATO, he said, saved the Albanians. "Without NATO…? I don't want to even think about it. There would have been disaster."

At its height, KFOR (NATO's ground forces) troops numbered 50,000 from 39 different NATO and non-NATO nations. The Germans were the first to arrive in Mormorina's hometown. "It was great," he said. "People were in the streets greeting them and throwing flowers."

Kosovo's Flag
Kosovo's flag. The six stars represent the ethnic groups who live in the newly independent nation.

In February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, and the United States was among the first to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, along with 22 of 27 European Union nations including France, Germany, Britain and Italy. In all, 88 countries have recognized Kosovo, but Serbia has not.

There are many difficulties to be overcome, according to a congressional report published in March, not the least of which is the ongoing conflict in the Serbian dominated north.

Kosovo, the United States and many EU nations oppose partition of that section to Serbia. However, it has been suggested that such a move might work to Kosovo's advantage, eliminating an ongoing problem while encouraging political recognition from the Serbian government.

Unemployment in Kosovo is 45 percent, and small farms are the largest employers. The country has little large-scale industry and few exports.

"We will have to work hard," Mormorina said. "If we work hard, we can push past this phase."