Baku criticizes Guardian reporting as smear as National Crime Agency looks at indicate and conceives investigation
The government of Azerbaijan has responded angrily to revealings that it moved a secret $2.9 bn( PS2. 2bn) fund which was used to pay prominent Europeans, lead lobbying functionings, and launder fund via groupings of opaque British companies.
Azerbaijan’s deputy president, Ali Hasanov, said the narratives by the Guardian and other media partners were a smear. In the first official reaction from Baku, Hasanov said the regime was the victim of a “scandalous” campaign are governed by British ability, the Armenian diaspora and the US.
” When did the Guardian write about the truth about Azerbaijan? This newspaper has been known for decades for being against Azerbaijan ,” Hasanov told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet . The reports were” biased, groundless and provoking ,” he said.
On Tuesday, the authorities blocked access from within Azerbaijan to the website of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project ( OCCRP ). The OCCRP produced details of the scheme, nicknamed the Azerbaijani Laundromat, following a leak of data to the Danish newspaper Berlingske.
The use of British firms in the Laundromat has inspired calls for Theresa May to investigate. This is the second age this year that British corporate entities have been found to be at the heart of a large-scale money laundering operation run from a former Soviet commonwealth. In March, a same programme run from Moscow, the $20 bn Global Laundromat, was exposed.
Opposition politicians exhorted the government to act to prevent the misuse of companionship vehicles. Four offshore-owned British fellowships- based in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Potters Bar in Hertfordshire- has enabled us to funnel money into the western financial method. It led via the Estonian branch of a Danish bank, Danske.
Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, conducted calls for an inquiry, saying this was what happened” when the corporate landscape is too gently regulated “.
” Thanks to the Guardian investigation we learn of something called the Azerbaijani Laundromat ,” he said.” But now is the time to washing some reasonably dirty laundry in public and catch out exactly who paid coin to whom and why.
” We need a full investigation to see that dirty money has not been used to buy influence in the UK. The Azerbaijani government is guilty of systematic human rights abuses and it would appear the existing regime has been reaching pays on an industrial scale .”
Margaret Hodge, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for responsible tax who uncovered the use of excise havens as chair of the public accountings committee, added to calls for enhanced transparency.
” Yet again a whistleblower has face-lift the lid on some unconscionably horrific behaviour ,” she said.” It seems that Britain and British overseas territories are promoting alleged perverts rules by refusing to introduce the full transparency the Reactionary promised but failed to deliver.
” Until we know who owns companies and properties in Britain and in the tax shelters we restrain, such inappropriate rehearsals will continue and Britain will be reprehensible because of the government’s failure to act .”
Peter Dowd, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said:” Money laundering injures their own economies, steals from others and corrupteds national societies. The financial method should effectively and efficiently provide investment that advantages the whole economy , not boost the offshore bank balances of plutocrats and crooks here and abroad.
” We have encountered too many of these sickening scandals in recent years because the Tories are incapable of taking on the rigged system, which injures the many to support the very few .”
Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP who sits on the European parliament’s economics and monetary affairs committee and probe into the Panama Papers, said the revelations were stunning and reveal” once again that British claims to be a leader in transparency bury a far grubbier reality “.
” The concerning the relationship between UK companies and our murky offshore excise oasis permit the world’s corrupted society to gratify their extravagant lifestyles at public expenditure ,” she said.” They then use these ill-gotten additions to buy political influence that prevented from being held to account for human rights abuses and bad authority .”
The four conglomerates at the centre of the Azerbaijani Laundromat are always restriction partnerships registered in the UK. They were: Metastar Invest, Hilux Service, Polux Management, and LCM Alliance. Their corporate “partners” are anonymous entities based in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and Belize.
Some of the money from the PS2. 2bn fund was used to pay for indulgences such as autoes, interior design and dentistry, while other sums went to European political leaders and prominent digits linked to the promotion of Azerbaijan. Seven million pounds was wasted immediately in the UK, including on private school fees.
Azerbaijan’s ruling family is not instantly appointed in the leaked records. But evidence of a attachment was overwhelming. Big summing-ups came via the state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan, which is the largest bank in an oil-wealthy country, and hitherto earlier the summer months it filed for bankruptcy protection in New York. The explanation and emergency situations ministries in Baku all contributed cash.
The scheme was used to pay for the government’s incidental expenses including the medical greenbacks of Yaqub Eyyubov, Azerbaijan’s firstly deputy prime minister. There were separate pays to Eyyubov’s son Emin, Azerbaijan’s EU ambassador, and to the president’s press secretary, Azer Gasimov.
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