Center for National and International Studies
“The Azerbaijani Laundromat brought a lot of damage on many levels to Azerbaijan itself, to the European Union, to the US, and other parts of the world.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Nardaran prisoner Abbas Huseyin, a member of the Muslim Union Movement, says his life is in danger in a letter addressed to the public. “Since I felt a threat to my life, I decided to inform the public. My life is in danger. If not today, then tomorrow, if not tomorrow, in 5 days, if not in 5 days, then in 5 months – I have no doubt that they will kill me at some point.” He also said that he was subjected to torture in prisons.
Faithful activist, and member of the Muslim Union Movement, Rovshan Aliyev was arrested on May 12 in Bilgah settlement outside of Baku. According to his mother Zahrakhanim Aliyeva, they threatened him and his family and forced him to agree to the drug charges.
Governance and Corruption
The Chamber of Accounts announced that more than 25 million manats were embezzled in the Ministry of Agriculture of Nakhchivan during 2021 and 2022. “Gamigaya Holding” belonging to Vasif Talibov, former head of the autonomous Republic, is said to be involved in embezzlement and misappropriation of state funds. There is no official information about detention or arrest related yet.
Money laundering operations linked to MP Javanshir Feyziyev can become a serious problem for the British Tory Party. Javad Marandi, a UK-based businessman who was involved in the laundering of a serious amount of money from Azerbaijan, was named in the new criminal investigation case. Although the British media sought permission from the court to name him 19 months ago, only now has the court granted the request. Marandi was the partner of Feyziyev whom the London court accused of money laundering. Feyziyev is accused of laundering 226 million dollars. Feyziyev is known for his close connection with the ruling Aliyev family. Marandi, on the other hand, is known for his generous donations to the UK Conservative Party. The UK National Crime Agency told the court it would “neither confirm nor deny” whether there was an active investigation into Mr. Marandi’s finances, while Marandi denied all the accusations.
It is not the first time Feyziyev has been accused of large-scale money laundering. In 2017, investigative journalists uncovered a huge money-laundering scheme, which later became known as the “Azerbaijani Laundromat”. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported that $2.9bn (£2.3bn) of dirty money – cash stolen from Azerbaijan’s people and economy – had been deposited in the offshore accounts by members of the country’s political elite. The amount was largely spent for the personal enrichment of the officials and, also to bribe European politicians. Paul Radu, the OCCRP’s co-founder, said that “the Azerbaijani Laundromat brought a lot of damage on many levels to Azerbaijan itself, to the European Union, to the US, and other parts of the world.”
Experts believe that this scandal will cost the ruling party of Britain dearly. Duncan Hames, director of policy at the anti-corruption research group Transparency International UK, said that “that should be a concern, not just to people who are worried about where that money came from, but about what it says about how easily money can reach political parties without [them] doing proper checks on its origins.”
According to the UK’s National Crime Agency (MCA), Marandi received suspicious amounts of more than $230 million from offshore companies that received funds from Azerbaijan’s Laundering Machine, a money-laundering scheme uncovered by the OCCRP in 2017. Marandi received $71 million directly, and the rest was sent to an offshore company he owned. Moreover, Marandi owns more than 20 “Mcdonald’s” fast food chains in Azerbaijan and a cigarette company that distributes many international brands. According to the information provided by the British law firm, the cigarette business is considered to be his main source of income. In addition, he holds a high-ranking position at “Pasha Construction”, a huge real estate company in Azerbaijan belonging to the ruling Aliyev family.
Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Jamil Hasanli commented corruption scandal, saying that it was Feyziyev’s close links to the Aliyev family that he could avoid prosecution. “In fact, when 5.6 million pounds (37 million manats) belonging to the family members of Javanshir Feyziyev were confiscated, why did not the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan start an investigation? Because Feyziyev is not such an ordinary person, he is a business and corrupt partner of the ruling family.”
May 19, 2023