* Fullani sacked as governor after a decade on job
* He now awaiting trial under house arrest
TIRANA, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Parliament sacked Ardian Fullani as Albania’s central bank governor on Thursday after 10 years on the job, responding to calls to fire him after an employee stole 713 million lek (6.58 million US dollar) in cash.
The governing coalition of Socialists and their allies ended Fullani’s career accusing him of such poor management that he violated the ethics and damaged the interests of the bank.
Fullani was arrested two weeks ago on charges of abuse of office for not preventing the theft. An appeals court released him on Monday and placed him under house arrest pending a trial.
He has declared himself “absolutely innocent” of the charges, which could land him in jail for up to seven years if convicted, and defended his record saying the bank had denounced the theft as a grave but isolated incident.
The thief was arrested in July and admitted he had been stealing banknotes for four years, stuffing the boxes they were stored in with old books. He used the cash to bet on sports events, including the World Cup this summer.
After that, Fullani defied a public outcry and refused to step down for five weeks until he was arrested on Sept. 5. His lawyer has hinted that his arrest was politically motivated.
The court has slapped a gag order on Fullani and his mobile phone has been turned off, so there has been no comment from him on his sacking.
1 US dollar = 108.3700 Albanian lek Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Tom Heneghan