Prison for swindlers, but they walk free

A mammoth process has ended: On Thursday, the District Court Hamburg convicted the Osmani-brothers to a heavy jail- sentence. The court found the accused guilty of having fraudulently obtained bank credits of several million Euro. Burim Osmani was sentenced to five years and eleven months in jail, his brother Bashkim to three years and nine months. A third accused, who had been a business partner of the Osmani`s, has to go to jail for three years and six months. However, the court also decided that for now, the Osmani Brothers will not be jailed. Burim Osmani had been in detention for thirty months awaiting trial, his brother Bashkim had only attended the trial on condition of free passage. In exchange, they had to deposit almost two million Euro as a security. They also have to report to a parole officer twice a week. Their lawyers said they will lodge an appeal against the judgment.

With the judgement, the court followed the prosecution which had demanded long prison sentences for Burim and Bashkim Osmani. “This is a success for us and also for the Landeskriminalamt”, the prosecutor said.

The process against the two Osmani-brothers had started in March. It was a case that had made headlines not only because of the millions of Euro the brothers had embezzled, but also because of the enigmatic personalities of the two accused. The two Osmani brothers had come to Germany from Albania in the 1970s and had quickly made a fortune. Burim Osmani owned several pubs and night clubs in St. Pauli and quickly established a reputation as the secret King of the Reeperbahn. The famous “Café Keese” as well as the “Pupasch” and the “Heiße Ecke” belonged to his empire. Burim and Bashkim Osmani also had excellent political connections. Mario Mettbach, former construction senator of the Schill- party, had been their advisor for many years.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had long suspected Burim Osmani and other members of his family of being involved in organized crime as well as drug trafficking. They started investigating them more than 15 years ago, but were never able to make the allegations stick.

In 2007, the Hamburg prosecution charged Burim and Bashkim Osmani with embezzlement and delay of bankruptcy. The brothers had induced the heads of the former Volksbank Lauenburg to extend credits of 30 million Euro to them for alleged construction projects on the Balkan. In reality, the money had been used to built brothels and finance estate deals in the red light district. Employees of the Osmanis, among them waiters and caretakers, had acted as intermediaries who had officially applied for the credits. As a result, the small bank had almost faced bankruptcy and was only rescued by a banking emergency fond. The bank director and one of the board members had been sentenced to several years in jail in an earlier court case.