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Azerbaijan punches back over ‘scandalous’ money laundering allegations

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

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

Azerbaijan’s deputy president, Ali Hasanov, said the floors 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 intellect, 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 criminal and Corruption Reporting Project ( OCCRP ). The OCCRP wrote details of the scheme, nicknamed the Azerbaijani Laundromat, following a leak of data to the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

The use of British corporations in the Laundromat has motivated calls for Theresa May to investigate. This is the second period this year that British corporate entities have been found to be at the heart of a large-scale fund laundering action run from a former Soviet district. In March, a same scheme run away from Moscow, the $20 bn Global Laundromat, was exposed.

Opposition politicians counselled the government to act to prevent the abuse of companionship vehicles. Four offshore-owned British firms- based in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Potters Bar in Hertfordshire- has enabled us to pour coin into the western financial arrangement. It became via the Estonian chapter of a Danish bank, Danske.

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

” Thanks to the Guardian investigation we learn of something called the Azerbaijani Laundromat ,” he said.” But now is the time to clean some somewhat dirty laundry in public and find out precisely who paid fund 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 appears to have been the existing regime has been establishing pays on an industrial scale .”

Margaret Hodge, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for responsible imposition who discovered the use of tax oasis as chair of the public notes committee, added to calls for more transparency.

” Yet again a whistleblower has hoisted the eyelid on some unconscionably horrific action ,” she said.” It seems that Britain and British overseas territories are promoting alleged demoralizes traditions by refusing to introduce the full transparency the Conservative promised but failed to deliver.

” Until we know who owns companies and properties in Britain and in the tax refuges we control, such unreasonable patterns will continue and Britain will be liable because of the government’s failure to act .”

Peter Dowd, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said:” Money cleaning injures their own economies, steals from other persons and debases national societies. The financial method should effectively and efficiently provide investment that benefits the whole economy , not boost the offshore bank poises of plutocrats and offenders here and abroad.

” We have find too many of these appalling scandals in recent years because the Tories are incapable of taking on the rig system, which hurts 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 offending and reveal” once again that British claims to be a leader in clarity bury a far grubbier world “.

” The relationship between UK companies and our murky offshore taxation sanctuaries tolerate the world’s corrupt elite to gratify their extravagant lifestyles at public expenditure ,” she said.” They then use these ill-gotten gains to buy political influence that prevents them from being held to account for human rights abuses and bad authority .”

The four conglomerates at the centre of the Azerbaijani Laundromat were all restraint partnerships recorded 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 vehicles, interior design and dentistry, while other summing-ups was just going European politicians and foremost anatomies linked to the promotion of Azerbaijan. Seven million pounds was wasted directly in the UK, including on private school fees.

Azerbaijan’s governing family is not directly named in the leaked certificates. But evidence of a acquaintance 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 this summer it registered 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 bills of Yaqub Eyyubov, Azerbaijan’s firstly deputy prime minister. There were separate fees 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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