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Azerbaijan makes back over ‘scandalous’ money laundering pretensions

Baku criticizes Guardian reporting as smear as National Crime Agency looks at proof and believes investigation

The government of Azerbaijan has responded angrily to shows that it ranged a secret $2.9 bn( PS2. 2bn) money which was used to pay prominent Europeans, pass lobbying business, and launder money via a group of opaque British companies.

Azerbaijan’s deputy president, Ali Hasanov, said here fibs 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” safarus organised by British knowledge, 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 provocative ,” he said.

On Tuesday, the authorities blocked access from inside Azerbaijan to the website of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project ( OCCRP ). The OCCRP publicized 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 motivated calls for Theresa May to investigate. This is the second occasion 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 government. In March, a similar scheme run from Moscow, the $20 bn Global Laundromat, was exposed.

Opposition politicians insisted the government to act to prevent the misuse of fellowship vehicles. Four offshore-owned British business- are stationed in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Potters Bar in Hertfordshire- were used to funnel coin into the western fiscal arrangement. It get via the Estonian limb of a Danish bank, Danske.

Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, produced calls for an inquiry, saying this was what happened” when the corporate landscape is too delicately regulated “.

” Thanks to the Guardian investigation we learn of something called the Azerbaijani Laundromat ,” he said.” But now is the time to bathe some reasonably dirty linen 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 methodical human rights abuses and it would appear the regime has been establishing fees on an industrial proportion .”

Margaret Hodge, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for responsible excise who disclosed the use of tariff refuges as chair of the public histories committee, added to calls for enhanced transparency.

” Yet again a whistleblower has elevated the eyelid on some unconscionably awful action ,” she said.” It seems that Britain and British overseas territories are facilitating suspect corrupt patterns by refusing to introduce the full transparency the Conservative predicted but failed to deliver.

” Until we know who owns companies and properties in Britain and in the tax refuges we hold, such unacceptable rehearses 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 cleaning hurts their own economies, steals from others and perverts our society. The financial plan should effectively and efficiently provide investment that helps the whole economy , not boost the offshore bank balances of plutocrats and crooks here and abroad.

” We have witnessed too many of these offending gossips in recent years because the Tories are incapable of taking on the manipulate organisation, which throbs the many to support the very few .”

Molly Scott Cato, a Light-green MEP who are participating on the European parliament’s economics and monetary affairs committee and inquiry into the Panama Papers, said the revelations were sickening and reveal” once again that British claims to be a leader in transparency disguise a far grubbier world “.

” The relationship between UK companies and our murky offshore tax shelters permit the world’s corrupted elite to gratify their extravagant lifestyles at public expense ,” she said.” They then use these ill-gotten gains to buy political force that prevented from being held to account for human rights abuses and bad government .”

The four firms at the centre of the Azerbaijani Laundromat were all restraint partnerships registered in the UK. They were: Metastar Invest, Hilux Work, Polux Management, and LCM Alliance. Their corporate “partners” are anonymous entities based in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and Belize.

Some of the currency from the PS2. 2bn money was used to pay for luxuries such as autoes, interior design and dentistry, while other sums went to European politicians and prominent anatomies linked to the promotion of Azerbaijan. Seven million pounds was spent directly in the UK, including on private school fees.

Azerbaijan’s governing pedigree is not directly named in the leaked reports. But evidence of a associate was overwhelming. Large-scale summarizes came via the state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan, which is the largest bank in an oil-wealthy country, and yet earlier this summer it filed for bankruptcy protection in New York. The defence and emergency situations ministries in Baku all contributed cash.

The scheme was used to pay for the government’s incidental expenses including the medical proposals of Yaqub Eyyubov, Azerbaijan’s firstly deputy prime minister. There were separate payments to Eyyubov’s son Emin, Azerbaijan’s EU ambassador, and to the president’s press secretary, Azer Gasimov.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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